Stomach Pain after Drinking Alcohol

People often complain about stomach pain after drinking alcohol, and there may be a variety of reasons for this. Most of these causes stem from the consumption of alcohol, and any pain or discomfort should set off alarm bells for you.
WellnessKeen Staff
Last Updated: Apr 9, 2018
Alcohol consumption has many dangers and side effects, and if you are experiencing severe pain in your stomach after this, there's plenty of cause to be concerned. This discomfort is often seen after a night of binge drinking, and is accompanied by many other symptoms as well. While you might think that you are 'manning it out' by overlooking the pain, the fact is, this could be something you would live to regret. Stomach pain could be your body sending out signs telling you that all is not well, and you might want to take it seriously. For some, stomach pain may be a common occurrence, simply because they have been used to consuming alcohol in copious amounts.
Why Does Alcohol Cause Stomach Ache Anyway?
Gastrointestinal (GI) tract is the first organ system that get exposed to alcohol. Chronic alcohol consumption alters the structure as well as functions of the GI tract which leads to stomach ache, heartburn, acid reflux and abdominal discomfort. Some of the reasons for such stomach ache and other symptoms are as follows:
  • Alcohol is a pro-oxidant. It is rapidly metabolized, and known to generate reactive oxygen species. This causes oxidative damage to cells and tissues of the GI tract.
  • Acute alcoholism leads to acute gastrointestinal bleeding and diarrhea.
  • Alcohol causes the gastric mucosa to shrink leading to decreased gastric acid secretion.
  • Alcoholism has deleterious effects on 'gut barrier', which refers to the single layered epithelium lining the stomach. This epithelium is selectively permeable, and plays an important role in the absorption of nutrients and protection of stomach tissues from the acidic environment of the stomach. The disruption of this barrier induces autoimmunity and inflammation leading to stomach pain and cramps.
  • Alcohol consumption triggers inflammatory bowel disease and gastritis leading to ulceration of the epithelial lining. This also increases the chances of contracting other infections which are otherwise inhibited by the epithelial lining.
  • Alcoholism induces inflammation of pancreas which leads to abdominal pain accompanied by nausea and vomiting.
What Can You Do About It?
Realization is the first step to solving any problem, and this one is no different. Many people have a tendency to ignore this stomach pain, as they feel it is something that will simply pass away on its own. This is because most people are oblivious or completely ignorant about the many risks of alcoholism. If these conditions are not diagnosed and treated immediately, the consequences can be quite severe.
Visiting a medical expert is heavily recommended, and could be the only solution. For most alcoholics, acceptance of their problem is perhaps the toughest step to take, only then would they actually consider visiting a doctor. Depending on the severity of the condition, the intensity of the stomach pain, and the frequency of occurrence of such pain, a suitable course of action and medication will be recommended by the doctor. The treatments may include antacids and antibiotics to prevent bacterial overgrowth at injured epithelial sites, etc. Needless to say,  further consumption of alcohol is highly discouraged.
For most people, simple abstinence from drinking alcohol will solve the problem. Since the discomfort surfaces as a direct result of consumption, it is simple logic that keeping away from the root cause will cure the problem. Others are not so lucky though, either because they continue to consume alcohol, or have been consuming it for so long that the damage is now permanent and irreversible. Even if they do stop drinking, it will not change anything for them.
Precaution Is of Prime Importance
Controlling the alcohol consumption, and preventing the occurrence of alcohol-induced ill effects is an ideal way to maintain your health. To rid yourself completely of this pain, you have to simply control your consumption habits. This is probably easier said than done for most people, but this is just how it is. Many people revert to their old habits and ways of consumption, even though doctors warn and advise them against alcoholism. This is the single biggest cause of such problems, and has caused strife and suffering for hundreds of thousands of people over the years. After all the blood tests and medication doses are over, the only way some individuals can feel better about themselves is by going back to their old ways, thus exposing themselves to even greater risks and complications.
There are plenty of de-addiction and rehabilitation centers out there to help people who are addicted to alcohol. These places have doctors and psychiatrists who help alcoholics recover from their addiction, and in time overcome it completely. These rehab centers often have people who have overcome their addiction, who come in to help other alcoholics address their issues with alcohol, by sharing their experiences and the methods they chose to get out of the habit. Rehab centers are very helpful to get people back to a healthy lifestyle, devoid of alcohol addiction.
What one needs to realize is that medicines can only help to take care of the physical manifestation of the addiction, but never the addiction itself. At the end of the day, it boils down to mind over matter. If you decide to take responsibility for yourself and take control of your life, there's little that can stop you.
Stomach pain after drinking alcohol is merely the tip of the iceberg, as the implications of alcoholism can be very serious and run real deep. Remember, your body is undoubtedly a temple, but you might want to leave the 'spirits' on the outside!
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to substitute the advice of a medical expert.