Updated on February 6, 2024
4 min read

Alcoholic Gastritis

Key Takeaways

  • Alcoholic gastritis is a condition in which the stomach ling becomes irritated and inflamed
  • Alcoholic gastritis is caused by excessive alcohol consumption
  • Alcoholic gastritis can cause short and long-term damage to your stomach
  • You can recover from alcoholic gastritis with antacids
  • The best way to recover from alcoholic gastritis is to reduce or stop alcohol intake

What is Alcoholic Gastritis?

Alcoholic gastritis is a medical condition characterized by an irritated and inflamed stomach lining.4 This happens because alcohol consumption is linked to stomach acid production.

The increased stomach acid can gradually erode and irritate the stomach lining. This triggers gastritis symptoms. 

Over time, the acid in your stomach can wear away your stomach lining. This will cause it to become inflamed, which can be painful.

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What are the Symptoms of Alcoholic Gastritis?

Acute gastritis is a sudden inflammation or swelling in the stomach lining. On the other hand, chronic gastritis is a long-term condition that develops gradually. 

Although both conditions can worsen alcoholic gastritis, symptoms can vary from person to person. Here are some of the most common symptoms you might experience with either condition:4

  • Upset stomach
  • Stomach pain or burning
  • Feeling full
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Belching
  • Hiccups
  • Appetite loss
  • Feeling weak
  • Blood in vomit
  • Blood in stool

What Causes Alcoholic Gastritis?

Heavy drinking can cause alcoholic gastritis. Heavy drinking is defined as 15 or more drinks per week for men and eight or more drinks per week for women.2

Long-term heavy drinking is problematic because ethyl alcohol directly damages the alimentary tract mucosa. The more you drink, the more damage it can do.3

Who is at Risk for Alcoholic Gastritis?

Alcoholic gastritis is an uncommon condition. However, it can occur in people who drink heavily for prolonged periods. 

Alcoholic Gastritis can also occur in people who don’t often drink alcohol, but drink excessive amounts of it in a short amount of time. This is why you might feel nausea, stomach pains and burning after binge drinking.

People who are at risk of alcoholic gastritis includes:5

  • People with alcohol use disorders
  • People who have a family history of alcohol abuse
  • People who drink to cope with stress
  • Older people who frequently drink alcohol

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Diagnosis and Treatment for Alcoholic Gastritis

Your healthcare provider can diagnose you with alcoholic gastritis by performing a series of tests. They’ll likely conduct a physical exam and discuss your health history.

From there, they may also facilitate the following tests:4

  • Upper GI (Gastrointestinal) Series: An X-ray that checks on the organs in the top part of your digestive system
  • Upper endoscopy (esophagogastroduodenoscopy): Used to examine the inside of your esophagus, stomach, and duodenum with an endoscopic camera
  • Blood tests: Blood tests can detect signs of anemia or bacteria in your stomach
  • Stool specimen check: A stool sample can contain stomach bacteria that causes gastritis
  • Breath test: Used to identify stomach bacteria linked to gastritis, typically H. pylori

Factors That Affect Treatment for Alcoholic Gastritis

Once your doctor diagnoses you with alcoholic gastritis, the next step is to treat it. Treatment varies depending on several factors:

  • Age
  • Current health
  • Health history
  • Any medication reactions
  • The severity of your case

Treatment Options for Alcoholic Gastritis

Generally, your healthcare provider will prescribe antacids to reduce the acid in your stomach. These medications include:6

  • Histamine 2 (H2) blockers
  • Proton pump inhibitors

If the gastritis is linked to an infection or another health issue, your doctor will also treat that problem. However, receiving help to reduce or quit drinking is the best treatment for alcoholic gastritis. 

Your doctor will talk to you about treatment options, like rehab for detoxing and therapy.1 These treatment options include:7

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Long-Term Effects of Alcoholic Gastritis

Long-term effects of alcoholic gastritis can be serious. If you don’t treat alcoholic gastritis, it can lead to increased stomach acid, which can be painful. 

It can also cause the following health issues:

  • Peptic ulcer disease: Stomach ulcers, or sores, in the upper digestive tract
  • Gastric polyps: Non-cancerous cell clusters that build up on the inside of your stomach
  • Stomach tumors: Both stomach cancer and non-cancerous lumps
  • Liver damage: Caused by liver inflammation due to excessive drinking
  • Pancreatitis: Inflammation of the pancreas

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Updated on February 6, 2024
8 sources cited
Updated on February 6, 2024
  1. Alcohol Use Disorder.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2022.
  2. Drinking Too Much Alcohol Can Harm Your Health. Learn the Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022. 
  3. Bienia A, Sodolski W, Luchowska E.. “The Effect of Chronic Alcohol Abuse on Gastric and Duodenal Mucosa.” Annales Universitatis Mariae Curie-Sklodowska. Sectio D: Medicina, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  4. Gastritis.” Johns Hopkins Medicine, 2019.
  5. Gastritis.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2022.
  6. Gastritis.” NHS Choices, NHS.
  7. Treatment for Alcohol Problems: Finding and Getting Help.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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