Stomach Pain After Drinking – Is It A Hangover Or Alcohol Gastritis?

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There are two main types of drinking; socially or problematic. A social drinker per say will drink in moderation and can take or leave alcohol with impunity in some cases going long periods of time without the need for or want for more alcohol.

Problematic drinking can be categorised into three main areas; those who are physically allergic to alcohol and have adverse reactions to the drug. Those who drink alcoholically on a daily basis and have developed a dependence on the use of alcohol.

And those who drink alcoholically by means of binge drinking.

The classification of drinking i.e. social or problematic and the length of time spent drinking if problematic can all contribute to Alcohol Gastritis.

However, the assumption that daily drinkers would find themselves more prone to Alcohol Gastritis isn’t true and it must be mentioned that occasional drinkers can also suffer from Alcoholic Gastritis. This will depend on an individual and their sensitivity to alcohol.

Binge drinkers may be more prone to this condition than daily drinkers.

The key indicators for Alcohol Gastritis can be Acute i.e. they can occur suddenly and without warning this may make it hard to pinpoint if it’s a bad hangover or not.

Understanding the signs and symptoms may help when deciding to seek medical assistance or not.

Stomach Pain after Drinking – Is it a hangover or Alcohol Gastritis

Hangover Signs and Symptoms  

Hangovers generally begin to develop when the Blood Alcohol Content drops to near/or 0.  The alcohol leaving the body can cause various symptoms to occur.

These symptoms of a hangover are typically negative in nature and unpleasant for the person experiencing them.

Hangover symptoms that can occur:

  • Dehydration
  • Nausea
  • Over heating
  • Chills
  • Muscle Aches
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Lightheaded or dizzy
  • Body shakes
  • Racing heart
  • Stomach Pain

If broken down into two components the term ‘hang’ and ‘over’ implies these feelings are ‘hanging’ ‘over’ the person the day after what is usually a large consumption of alcohol.

These signs and symptoms usually lift after 24 hours but issues such as serious dehydration may take longer to lift.

In some cases, electrolytes may need to be consumed to counteract dehydration and in severe cases hospitalisation may be necessary.

This can be exacerbated if nausea occurs.

Many may turn to aspirin, paracetamol or brufen to aid symptoms but care must be shown when intaking these over the counter medications if presenting with stomach pain. This may be a sign of Alcoholic Gastritis and some medicines will interfere with this condition causing even greater discomfort.

Physical movement may be impaired whilst hungover and it important the sufferer doesn’t drive or work dangerous machinery whilst feeling unwell.

Alcoholic Gastritis Signs and Symptoms

Alcoholic Gastritis is a condition brought on in most cases by overuse of alcohol and generally occurs around ten years or more of overuse.

This condition affects the stomach lining as the overuse of alcohol damages this essential area and causes levels of discomfort to the sufferer.  The stomach lining can start to erode if this happens then the digestive juices which are acidic in nature are responsible for the ensuing discomfort.

To ease symptoms and in all cases the use of alcohol is not recommended however the introduction of appropriate medicines and a change of diet can also help.

This condition can be investigated by a variety of different methods such as:

  • Upper Endoscopy - camera into stomach via the mouth to investigate the stomach lining
  • Blood Tests – can also test for Helicobacter Pylori and anaemia
  • Stool Tests – looking for the presence of black

The signs and symptoms of Acute and Chronic Alcoholic Gastritis

Acute is a sudden flare up of Gastritis and can be more painful than Chronic some of the contraindications can be extremely painful or dangerous to health.

In some cases, severe Alcoholic Gastritis can occur this can lead to internal bleeding as the stomach lining becomes red and may peel or burn away.

  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Regurgitation
  • Haemorrhage
  • Ulcers

Chronic is a long-term inflammation of the stomach lining and can cause the erosion of the stomach lining and its protective function

  • Pain in the upper abdominal region
  • Tiredness
  • Anaemia
  • Appetite Loss
  • Stomach irritation

All these key signs and symptoms of Alcoholic Gastritis are uncomfortable in nature and can be ignored for so long before the sufferer ultimately seeks treatment. As with all conditions early detection and appropriate medical intervention will soothe the symptoms.

Alcoholic Gastritis symptoms can be aided if alcohol is ceased, medical interventions are commenced, and diet becomes more abdominal friendly. For example, probiotic foods such as Kombucha, Yoghurt and Sauerkraut. As well as lean meats and raw vegetables are consumed.

Treatments for Alcoholic Gastritis

  • Probiotics
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors
  • Antacids
  • Antibiotics for GI tract bacteria

The medications prescribed for treatment are aimed to soothe the stomach lining. Take antacids for example they have an alkaline nature to work in opposition to the stomach acid. Returning stomach pH levels where possible to a less uncomfortable level.

The antibiotics can be prescribed if presence of a bacterial infection has been identified in the Upper GI Tract removing this infection will assist the GI Tract and help it work more effectively.

Care must be shown if taking Aspirin or Ibuprofen to manage pain as these can exacerbate symptoms. That is why it is always important to seek medical guidance.

The body is a complex organism and all parts sync together to ensure smooth operating if one part is not working correctly all areas begin to suffer.

Possible Long- Term Side Effects or Complications of Alcoholic Gastritis

  • Anaemia
  • Upper GI Tract Bleeding
  • Mallory Wiess Tears due to excessive vomiting
  • Increased risk of stomach cancer

Anaemia is when the body no longer creates enough red blood cells to transport oxygen around the body leaving the body feeling weakened and lethargic.

Upper GI Tract Bleeding from oesophagus, stomach or duodenum. This can be life threatening if not treated properly.

Mallory Wiess Tears occur in the oesophagus at the area near the stomach and are caused in some cases by excessive coughing and vomiting.

Stomach Cancer can locate anywhere in the stomach.

Again, if possible the elimination or vast reduction of alcohol intake is encouraged. To ease symptoms and promote recovery of the stomach lining.

Areas to be considered when reviewing alcohol intake with a view to reducing symptoms:

  • How long the symptoms have been occurring without seeking treatment?
  • How long the patient continues to drink in excess after first diagnosis?
  • How strong the concentrations of alcohol are i.e. straight vodka, whisky etc?
  • If binge drinking is occurring?
  • Is the patient dependent upon alcohol and requiring treatment?

What can I do to limit the effects of Alcoholic Gastritis?

  • Stop drinking or moderate intake
  • Inform a medical professional of symptoms
  • Reduce stress from life
  • Perform light exercise regularly
  • Review diet and introduce a stomach friendly healthy eating plan
  • Avoid large amounts of caffeine
  • Avoid large intake of anti-inflammatory drugs or stop if advised
  • Take all medications as prescribed
  • Is it Alcohol Gastritis or a Hangover?

    The signs and symptoms of a Hangover and Alcohol Gastritis may be similar in some cases for example Nausea or stomach pain. With a hangover the symptoms generally begin to ease around 24 hours.

    Alcoholic Gastritis may continue to cause suffering after the 24-hour period, and it is important to seek medical help if this is the case as underlying symptoms such as stomach ulcers or haemorrhage may be active.

    Some questions to ask yourself:

    • Have the symptoms disappeared after 24 hours? No – seek medical attention.
    • Do I still have abdominal discomfort or pain when not drinking? Yes – seek medical attention.
    • Am I dependant on alcohol do I require a clinically managed detox to stop my drinking?
    • Yes – consider residential rehab such as Abbeycare

    Clinically Managed Detox for those dependant on alcohol

    Clinically Managed Detox is a safe, professional and monitored way to withdraw substances from the body.

    The benefit of detoxing in a clinic is vast as the prescription can be increased or decreased to meet the need of the client.

    The clinic can deliver the meds at set times throughout the day in an environment created for the care and attention of the client.

    Success rates for completing the Clinically Managed Detox are high as the patient is removed from the home environment and the ability to purchase and use alcohol or drugs.

    Whilst undertaking therapy conducive to achieving and maintaining long-term sobriety.

    Stomach pain after drinking is common particularly if large amounts of alcohol have been consumed over a short period of time. A hangover can occur, and many ill effects can be felt by the human body.

    But when does stomach pain attributed to a hangover become Alcoholic Gastritis?

    If symptoms continue longer than a 24-hour period and abdominal discomfort is felt even after drinking, then these indicate a more succinct problem.

    For daily drinkers it can sometimes be hard to assess why the abdominal pain is occurring and the sufferer may have gotten used to a dull or sometimes sharp pain in this area.

    However, drinking daily over a ten-year period may indicate stomach problems have arisen and medical attention should be considered urgently.

    With binge drinking the stomach pains may be more intense and as always this is the bodies way of saying – something isn’t right!

    And in some cases, light drinkers may encounter Alcoholic Gastritis due to the sensitivity or their stomach lining.

    The recommendation is not to ignore these pains if concerned seek medical attention. In all cases it is better to rule out Alcoholic Gastritis than to go on suffering without appropriate medical care.

    As long-term suffering can lead to further complications such as: liver damage, stomach ulcers and stomach cancer.

    If interested in residential rehab as an intervention to aid the cessation of alcohol intake. 

    If a residentially managed detox is not suitable- we also offer a home detox from alcohol service. 

    The Abbeycare website has information on both Residential Rehab and Outpatient Rehab as well as the Psychodynamic Therapies used to help the participant stop and stay stopped after Clinically Managed Detox is complete.

    Recovery is available for anyone regardless of background, drug they choose to use or length of time they have used substances for. The cycle can be broken.

    If you visualise yourself free from alcohol and drugs living a happy and productive life?

    And wish to learn more about our Residential Treatment at Abbeycare and our Clinically Managed Detox call our free 24/7 Helpline on 01603 513 091 or fill out the form below to speak to a trained addiction counsellor.

    About the author

    Peter Szczepanski

    Peter has been on the GPhC register for 29 years. He holds a Clinical Diploma in Advanced Clinical Practice and he is a Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Misuse for Abbeycare Gloucester and works as the Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Use in Worcestershire. Find Peter on Respiratory Academy, Aston University graduates, University of Birmingham, Q, Pharmaceutical Journal, the Dudley Pharmaceutical Committee, Dudley Council, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

    Peter has been on the GPhC register for 29 years. He holds a Clinical Diploma in Advanced Clinical Practice and he is a Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Misuse for Abbeycare Gloucester and works as the Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Use in Worcestershire. Find Peter on Respiratory Academy, Aston University graduates, University of Birmingham, Q, Pharmaceutical Journal, the Dudley Pharmaceutical Committee, Dudley Council, Twitter, and LinkedIn.