Does Alcohol Cause Ulcers?

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If you’ve ever had a stomach ulcer, you know how painful and uncomfortable they can be. A burning, gnawing sensation in the stomach is the most prominent symptom people recognize when they have an ulcer. Ulcers occur when the stomach lining is damaged from the acid in your stomach. This can result from an infection or taking too many NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or aspirin. Although alcohol does not cause ulcers, it can aggravate and create more discomfort when an ulcer has already formed.

This article will teach us more about ulcers, what happens when you mix alcohol and ulcers, and how you can improve your overall health and wellness.

Are you worried about your health and recognize alcohol’s impact on your body? Taking steps to recover from addiction can improve more than your physical health. Many people find that everything in life is better when they seek addiction treatment. People report fewer symptoms of illness, better sleep, increased energy, emotional stability, and deeper connections with loved ones.

Finding a treatment center that takes a holistic approach toward wellness is essential when experiencing significant health issues like ulcers and alcohol use disorder. We at Guardian Recovery believe everyone deserves quality care in treating addiction, no matter where you may be in your recovery. When you contact Guardian Recovery, you will work with a compassionate staff member ready to answer questions and provide you with individualized treatment options. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us for more information.

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What is an Ulcer?

Ulcers are open sores that develop in the stomach lining and upper portion of the small intestine. There are two types of ulcers, gastric ulcers, found inside the stomach, and duodenal ulcers, located in the small intestine. The most common cause of ulcers is due to a bacteria called H.pylori and the overuse of NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen and Tylenol. Stress, spicy food, and alcohol do not cause ulcers. However, they do aggravate ulcers once already formed.

Common Symptoms of Ulcers: 

  • Burning stomach pain.
  • The feeling of fullness, bloating.
  • Intolerance to fatty foods.
  • Heartburn.
  • Nausea.

Alcohol & Ulcers

Excessive alcohol use may not directly contribute to ulcers. However, excessive alcohol use can result in digestive problems. These issues arise due to inflammation and gastric acid production. Digestive problems associated with alcohol include ulcers, heartburn, and inflammation, also known as gastritis.

Excessive alcohol causes a host of problems with health. Alcohol contributes to increased inflammation, increased risk of stomach bleeding, and the amount of time it takes for the body to heal.

It is also well-known how alcohol negatively impairs the immune system. Alcohol is known to lower immunity by increasing inflammation, destroying good bacteria in the intestines, and allowing cytokines to increase. This disruption to the immune system can impact ulcer flare-ups.

Risk Factors for Developing Ulcers

It has been found that 1 in 10 people will develop ulcers. Here are the following risk factors for people to develop ulcers.

Risk Factors for Developing Ulcers

  • Frequent use of NSAIDs.
  • Family history of ulcers.
  • Illness such as liver, kidney, and lung disease.
  • Regularly drinking alcohol.
  • Smoking.

How to Know if Your Drinking Is Worsening Your Ulcers

As discussed earlier, alcohol can increase symptoms of ulcers. But how do you know if your alcohol use worsens your health? Here are some signs in which ulcers are worsening. If you notice any of these symptoms, please seek immediate medical care.

Signs of Worsening Ulcers: 

  • Black or tarry stool, red in stool.
  • Red in vomit or what looks like coffee grounds.
  • Severe sharp pain in the abdomen that doesn’t go away.
  • Feeling dizzy or fainting.
  • A rapid pulse.
  • A change or worsening of ulcer symptoms.

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Can You Drink if You Have an Ulcer?

It is not recommended to drink alcohol when you have an ulcer. This may increase inflammation and slow healing time. Additionally, it may increase the risks of complications if alcohol aggravates the ulcer further. Here are some helpful tips from medical experts explaining how ulcers should be treated to improve health and wellness.

Treatment For Ulcers:

  • Medication such as protein pump inhibitors and H2 blockers.
  • Antibiotics.
  • Stopping NSAIDs.
  • Abstain from smoking cigarettes and alcohol consumption.
  • Change your diet to avoid further aggravation.

Heavy Drinking & Ulcers

Light drinking or even moderate drinking may not be a contributing factor when developing ulcers. However, heavy drinking has been linked to digestive problems such as gastritis and Gerd. Alcohol is also responsible for chronic and often severe health conditions such as esophageal cancer, liver disease, and heart disease. As discussed, alcohol increases strain on the liver, increases inflammatory properties in the body, impairs the immune system, slows healing, and intensifies disease symptoms.

Research has also concluded that alcohol explicitly causes inflammation in the gut, increasing the risk of inflammation in the GI tract.

Not only do these symptoms impact the gastrointestinal system, but they can lead to multisystem damage and failure. The inflammation may start specifically in GI with a leaky gut, but pathogens expand further, leading to bacterial infections, cancer, liver disease, and neurological pathologies.

Light Drinking & Ulcers

Doctors recommend abstaining from alcohol entirely while recovering from an ulcer. It is suggested that even the smallest amount of alcohol can further aggravate the ulcer leading to further complications and delaying healing. There is conflicting evidence regarding light alcohol use preventing ulcers due to alcohol purging the stomach of H.pylori. However, once an ulcer has already developed, no amount of alcohol is helpful.

Beer & Ulcers

Beer increases the amount of acidity in the stomach, which worsens an ulcer that has already formed. Research has indicated that smoking cigarettes and alcohol puts people at a higher risk of bleeding ulcers.

How to Prevent Ulcers if You Drink

The best way to treat ulcers from developing is to eat a specific diet, including fermented foods and probiotics, to treat the H.pylori bacteria that is the primary cause of ulcers. Additionally, limiting foods such as coffee, chocolate, spicy foods, acidic foods, alcohol, and caffeine can help prevent the amount of stomach acid that contributes to aggravating ulcers. The following foods have been known to help prevent ulcers from developing.

Foods to Prevent Ulcers:

  • Cauliflower.
  • Cabbage.
  • Radishes.
  • Apples.
  • Blueberries.
  • Raspberries.
  • Blackberries.
  • Strawberries.
  • Carrots.
  • Broccoli.
  • Leafy greens.
  • Yogurt.
  • Sauerkraut.
  • Kombucha.
  • Olive oil.
  • Honey.
  • Garlic.
  • Turmeric.

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If you are struggling with ulcers and need help treating your alcohol addiction, please contact us today. At Guardian Recovery, our mission is to provide comprehensive treatment for anyone in need. We will take the time to assess what treatment is most beneficial for you and provide compassionate, well-informed care to help guide you in your journey toward wellness. Our caring clinical professionals have decades of combined experience providing effective alcohol-use disorder treatment. We also can provide a no-obligation insurance benefit check at your convenience. We are ready to help you heal, so please contact us today.

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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/peptic-ulcer/symptoms-causes/syc-20354223
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5513683/
  3. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/10350-peptic-ulcer-disease
  4. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/peptic-ulcers-stomach-ulcers/symptoms-causes
  5. https://www.science.org/content/article/drink-away-those-ulcers
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10874551/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5047973/

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave

L.M.H.C.

Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

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Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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