How Are Ulcers Formed from Drinking Alcohol?
Unfortunately, the relationship between alcohol use and ulcers is complex. Ulcers, specifically peptic ulcers (stomach ulcers) form in the lining of your stomach, which can occur when damage and irritation occur in the stomach.
When an individual consumes excessive alcohol, then your stomach becomes inflamed and irritated. This is known as gastritis and can be very unpleasant.
Unfortunately, this makes it more susceptible to stomach ulcers.
In addition to forming new ulcers, drinking excessive alcohol also makes it harder for your body to heal from any existing illnesses or sores, including pre-existing ulcers.
If you think that you are currently suffering from a stomach ulcer and your alcohol consumption is making it worse, then you should speak to a member of the Rehab Recovery team for support and advice on how to get treated.
What is an ulcer?
A stomach ulcer, also known as a peptic ulcer is essentially a sore that forms in the lining of your stomach.
Unfortunately, when an individual drinks alcohol in excessive amounts, it irritates and inflames the lining in the stomach.
The stomach lining plays an important role in protecting your stomach from all sorts of infections and sores.
When the lining of the stomach becomes inflamed and irritated, it makes it a lot more susceptible to stomach acid which then leads to sores and ulcers.
Ulcers are then also more likely to form in the duodenum (which is also known as a part of the small intestine).
You are also more likely to develop stomach ulcers if you suffer from a type of bacteria known as Helicobacter pylori, taking certain types of medication for a prolonged period of time.
This is because these types of drugs (if taken over an unsuitable and prolonged period of time) will break down and damage the stomach’s ability to protect itself against certain types of stomach acid when digesting food.
Symptoms of stomach ulcers
You might be suffering from a stomach ulcer without even knowing it. Unfortunately, some people only realise that they are suffering from a stomach ulcer by the time it is too late, and have done considerable damage.
Nevertheless, there is a list of signs and symptoms when it comes to ulcers.
Unfortunately, if you are already suffering from an addiction to alcohol and an ulcer forms as a result of this, then it might be particularly hard for you to notice certain side effects and symptoms when you are already suffering from other health conditions.
Drinking alcohol also causes other considerable damage to the body, and particularly the stomach.
This is why it can sometimes be very hard to notice specific symptoms and signs when you do have a stomach ulcer.
Below is a list of some common symptoms and side effects when it comes to stomach ulcers.
- Feeling sick
- Being physically sick
- Frequently feeling bloated, even when you haven’t eaten a particularly large meal
- Feeling full very quickly, even if you did not eat a lot of food or eat particularly quickly
- Belching after a meal or in between meals
- Seeing blood in your sick, even if it is just a little bit of blood
- Losing weight for no good reason at all
- Experiencing back pain
- Seeing blood in your stool
- Feeling an unexplained burning sensation in your stomach
- Stomach pain at night time
- Struggling to eat and drink, due to an unexplained pain in your tummy
- Stomach pain in between meals
If you are suffering from any of the above signs and symptoms, and think that you might be suffering from a stomach ulcer, then you need to speak to your doctor for advice and treatment.
If you think that you are suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction alongside an ulcer, then have a look at our list of signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction.
If you suffer from stomach ulcers, then you will know just how painful they can be. Ulcers cause damage to the lining of your stomach, which makes it extremely difficult to digest food.
There are a number of different factors that cause ulcers, especially when it comes to stomach ulcers.
Whilst some of these are medical causes, caused by certain medications, others are more lifestyle.
In fact, a study carried out in 2017 by Clinical Endoscopy highlighted that whilst moderate drinking does not cause stomach ulcers, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol on a regular basis has been known to make pre-existing stomach ulcers worse.
However, the study also highlighted that more research is needed in order to establish whether excessive drinking is known to lead directly to causing stomach ulcers in the first place.
As you can see, drinking alcohol whilst suffering from a stomach ulcer is not recommended, and neither is drinking excessive alcohol if you are at risk of developing stomach ulcers.
The risks of drinking alcohol whilst suffering from stomach ulcers
As discussed above, more research is needed in order to establish whether or not drinking excessive amounts of alcohol causes stomach ulcers.
However, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol does put you more at risk of developing stomach ulcers if you are already at risk of developing them, and will certainly make your ulcers and symptoms worse if you already suffer from a stomach ulcer.
Not only will your ulcer get worse, but your symptoms will too.
If you are currently trying to heal and recover from a stomach ulcer, then drinking alcohol will also make it harder to recover from your condition, as this will sometimes slow down and prevent your healing.
What is classed as excessive drinking?
Millions of people across the UK drink alcohol. However, it is sometimes difficult to work out how much alcohol is classed as too much.
Some people might believe that excessive drinking is classed as a few drinks every week, whereas others see no harm in drinking a few drinks every evening.
Whilst no study has linked a certain number of drinks to causing stomach cancer, the UK government has set out a rule of guidelines, in order to signify how much alcohol is deemed dangerous.
These guidelines state that women should drink no more than fourteen units of alcohol per week, divided over three days.
This roughly equates to 6 medium glasses of wine, or 6 pints of 4% beer.
If you are concerned that you are drinking too much alcohol, then the best thing that you can do is to speak to a local GP or drug and alcohol team.
Alternatively, you can speak to a member of the team at Rehab Recovery on 0800 088 66 86 for advice and support.
So, can I drink alcohol if I have a stomach ulcer?
It can be dangerous and unhelpful to drink alcohol when you are poorly or sick, full stop. However, if you are currently suffering from a stomach ulcer, then it is strongly recommended that you do not drink alcohol at the same time.
It is widely accepted that you should avoid drinking alcohol if you suffer from a stomach ulcer so that you do not inflame the lining of your stomach any further, or irritate the pre-existing ulcer.
Your symptoms will also be worsened, and you will find yourself feeling more sick than ever, and might experience severe pains in your stomach as you continue to drink.
If your symptoms worsen, then you might also find that your ulcer starts to bleed and become inflamed, which makes it harder than ever for food to pass through the digestive system.
When this happens, your symptoms can become life-threatening, which is why it is incredibly important to avoid drinking alcohol when you are suffering from stomach ulcers.
Causes and risk factors
There are a number of causes and risk factors when it comes to developing stomach ulcers, some of which are listed below.
1. H. pylori bacteria
H. pylori bacteria is a common infection that millions of people across the world experience each year. H. pylori infection is usually harmless for most people who become infected, and most people suffer from the infection without always realising.
However, if you suffer from the H. pylori infection for a prolonged period of time, then you might find yourself suffering from a stomach ulcer soon enough.
This is why it is important to get your infection treated as soon as possible, so that it does not develop into anything more sinister.
Some people are more susceptible to developing the H. pylori bacterial infection than other people, which most doctors put down to a weakened immune system more than others, although the direct causes aren’t known.
2. Anti-inflammatory medications
If you are currently taking any anti-inflammatory medications then you are also more at risk of developing a stomach ulcer than those who are not.
Anti-inflammatory medications are commonly used by GPs across the UK to treat a wide range of different illnesses, such as back pain, stomach pain, high temperatures and inflammation, including any swelling.
Whilst these types of medications are commonly used throughout the medical industry in the UK, there is a long list of side effects associated with anti-inflammatory medications.
These side effects include things like stomach ulcers.
However, it is important to remember that you have to be taking these types of medications for a prolonged period of time in order to suffer from these types of illnesses.
If you already suffer from stomach ulcers then you must try as hard as possible to avoid taking anti-inflammatory medications, and you must inform your GP that you suffer from stomach ulcers if they do suggest any form of medication like this.
3. Your lifestyle
Your lifestyle also plays a huge role when it comes to stomach ulcers. For example, you might be more at risk of developing a stomach ulcer if you eat things like spicy foods, or find yourself suffering from stress or anxiety often.
You also might be more at risk if you drink excessive alcohol.
Whilst few studies have found direct links to prove that these lifestyle factors cause stomach ulcers, they have certainly been proven to make them worse.
Signs that my drinking is making my stomach ulcers worse
If you are already suffering from stomach ulcers, then your symptoms might get worse if you drink alcohol. Your ulcers will grow and become more inflamed if you continue to drink excessive amounts of alcohol, which is why it should be avoided at all costs.
If you are worried that drinking alcohol is making your stomach ulcers worse, then you should speak to your local GP or health practitioner as soon as possible.
If your alcohol consumption is making your stomach ulcers worse then you will find your existing symptoms are even worse, and you will also develop some new symptoms as well.
Below is a list of some symptoms you will experience if your excessive alcohol consumption is making your stomach ulcers worse.
- Blood in your sick
- Being sick that looks more like coffee grounds and is very dark in colour
- Experience severe heartburn and acid reflux
- Losing a lot of weight or gaining a lot of weight
- Feeling very tired and weak, and feeling like you might faint on a regular basis
- Struggling to breath or take deep breaths
- Experiencing sharp and painful stomach pains
- Blood in your stool
If you think that your excessive alcohol consumption is making your stomach ulcers worse and if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, then your stomach ulcers are becoming dangerous and life-threatening.
This means that your condition is worsening, and you need to seek medical advice and help soon.
If you think that you need to get help for your alcohol addiction, then you should speak to our team at Rehab Recovery for help, support and advice from our over-the-phone advisers.
Light drinking and ulcers
If you are currently suffering from stomach ulcers and also suffer from alcohol addiction, then you might be tempted to continue drinking in small amounts in order to get by.
However, when you are already suffering from a stomach ulcer, then consuming even a small amount of alcohol will cause harm to your stomach and to your ulcer. Even if you drink alcohol that is relatively low in alcohol percentage, like some particular beers, you could be doing your body significant harm.
In fact, drinking particular drinks like beer might increase the amount of acid that travels to your stomach, and as a result could cause more harm than drinks with a higher alcohol content, such as vodka.
The truth is that when you suffer from stomach ulcers you should avoid lots of things that would cause your stomach any unnecessary pain or cause a lot of gas or acid in your stomach.
You should at least aim to stop drinking any alcohol whilst you still have a stomach ulcer, and you should also wait until your stomach has had time to fully heal from the ulcer before you start drinking again.
However, abstaining from alcohol does not need to be boring. There are loads of different ways you can have fun staying sober! Why not take up a new hobby or try out some alcohol-free mocktails?
Beer and ulcers
It is important to note that beer can also cause your body a lot of harm if consumed whilst also suffering from a stomach ulcer.
This is mainly because beer makes your stomach and body produce and release a certain type of acid.
Beer is fermented, which means that it creates more acid and gastrin in the body than other types of alcohol does.
You should therefore avoid drinking beer where possible if you suffer from a stomach ulcer.
What should I do if I think I have a stomach ulcer?
If you suspect that you are suffering from a stomach ulcer, then you should get help from a healthcare professional as soon as possible.
You should speak to your local GP, who might recommend that you need to seek help from a gastrointestinal specialist at your local hospital.
You will need to explain all of your symptoms to your local GP and gastrointestinal specialist who will then need to perform a physical examination before they are able to officially diagnose you with a stomach ulcer.
Once your gastrointestinal specialist has spoken to you, they will need to carry out some tests that might include a blood or stool sample, which they will want to check for the H. pylori bacteria.
There is also a chance that you might be asked to undergo an endoscopy or an X-ray.
If you think that you are suffering from a stomach ulcer, then it is important to seek help from a professional straight away.
Stomach ulcers do not go away on their own, and yours will only get worse and cause you more pain, discomfort and issues in the future.
Tips for reducing your drinking
If you are addicted to alcohol and suffer from stomach ulcers, then you will need to avoid drinking alcohol where possible whilst you suffer from your ulcers.
For anyone who is addicted to alcohol, this will be challenging. That’s why our team at Rehab Recovery have created a list of helpful tips to help you avoid drinking alcohol whilst you suffer from your ulcers.
Start a new hobby
If you want to find new ways of avoiding drinking alcohol, then starting a new hobby is a great way of doing this.
By starting a new hobby, you will be distracted from drinking alcohol, will find new people to spend your time with and will also increase the amount of dopamine and serotonin in your body by engaging in new activities and meeting new people.
You could join your local leisure centre and see what classes they have on, or you could join a local football or netball team.
Even if you haven’t ever played before, these types of clubs are usually very inclusive and friendly and will have classes for all abilities.
Stop hanging around other people who drink
Who you choose to spend your time with has a huge impact on how you behave. This is why a lot of people who abuse both drugs and alcohol tend to spend their time with other people who also abuse drugs and alcohol.
Unfortunately, this does tend to make it very hard to distance yourself from these people and recover from your addiction.
If you are suffering from a stomach ulcer and are also addicted to drugs and alcohol, then you should try your best to distance yourself from other people who regularly abuse drugs and alcohol.
By doing so, you won’t be as tempted to consume alcohol or drugs whilst you are still recovering from your stomach ulcer.
Create positive, daily habits
If you want to avoid drinking alcohol whilst recovering from your ulcer, then you should try to create positive, daily habits. This could be a list of things as little as making your bed in the morning, going on a nice walk every day, spending more time relaxing, writing in a journal or cooking yourself a nutritious meal.
However, by filling your time focusing on your physical and mental health, you will find yourself in a better position to overcome your addiction issues and avoid putting your body through any more suffering and pain.
Ask for help and support
Finally, if you are addicted to alcohol and suffer from a stomach ulcer, then the best thing that you should do is seek help and support from professionals.
You should get treated by your local GP and hospital as soon as possible for your ulcer, and then consider receiving drug and alcohol rehab treatment in order to overcome your addiction issues.
Other ways excessive alcohol use will damage the body
If you frequently abuse drugs and alcohol, then you will be causing significant harm to your body.
When you consume alcohol, it will be absorbed into the bloodstream, and will then travel to all different parts of the body. As a result of this, it will interfere and cause damage to lots of different parts of the gastrointestinal tract within the body.
Unfortunately, the more alcohol you drink, the more damage you will do to certain parts of the body.
Alcohol causes a lot of damage to the gastrointestinal section of the body, which means that you might suffer from things such as diarrhoea, being frequently sick, IBS, acid reflux and weight loss.
If you drink a significant amount of alcohol, then you might also suffer from alcohol poisoning, high blood pressure, heart diseases, cancer, a weakened immune system and a range of mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, paranoia and memory loss.
Get in touch with Rehab Recovery
If you think that you are suffering from health issues due to alcohol addiction, then you need to seek help. You should speak to your local GP and explain that you are suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction.
They will then ask you a number of questions associated with drug and alcohol addiction, and will assess you for rehab treatment.
If you are struggling to gain access to NHS or council-funded rehab treatment, then speak to a member of the team at Rehab Recovery.
We will be able to provide you with the very best rehab and addiction treatment advice and will be able to point you in the right direction when it comes to treatment options in your local area.