- Written by Marcel Gemme C.C.D.C
Alcohol Effects on the Stomach and Intestines
Alcoholism is an addiction that could put a strain on family relationships, result to accidents and risky behaviors and of course, lead to serious health problems. We all know the dangerous side effects of too much alcohol consumption on your heart, brain and kidneys. However, aside from this, your stomach and intestines can also be severely affected.
How Alcohol Affects Digestive System
During the consumption of alcohol, it passes through the entire digestive tract from the esophagus to the intestines. Every lining of your digestive system will come in contact with the substance resulting to functional and metabolic changes such as impairment of the muscles that are involved in the absorption of nutrients and blocking of toxins that cross the walls of the intestines. Even the secretion of the gastric acids responsible for digesting food is adversely- affected. It is therefore, not surprising why a lot of alcoholics suffer from digestive problems.
Alcohol-Related Stomach and Intestine Disorders
You must remember that the gastrointestinal tract plays a major role in the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream. There are actually several digestive system diseases with etiologies that can be traced to excessive alcohol consumption.
Acid Reflux – this is perhaps the most common alcohol-related disease of the digestive system. Consumption of alcohol affects the muscle in the esophagus responsible for keeping the gastric acid from rising up. As a result, the drinker suffers from heartburn due to the reflux.
Ulcers and Gastric Lesions – excessive alcohol consumption can actually lead to increased gastric acid production. Such increase can severely damage the mucosa which protects the stomach lining. Once damaged, you can suffer from gastritis, which causes vomiting, nausea and tears in the stomach that can result to bleeding and ulcers. Unfortunately, once the gastric acid production is upset, it cannot return to normal even if you stop drinking. You will suffer from digestive troubles for the rest of your life.
Acute Gastric Mucosal Injury – health experts have proven that too much alcohol can inflame the mucosal lining of the stomach, which leads to gastric lesions and bleeding.
Malabsorption of Nutrients – the intestines’ main responsibility is to absorb the nutrients from the food you eat. With alcoholism, this process again is disrupted resulting to reduced absorption of carbohydrates, proteins, fats,, thiamin, folic acid, vitamin B12.
Bacterial Infections – risk of infection is high for alcoholics due to the altered levels of gastric acid in the stomach. And with the escape of toxins into the bloodstream, it is possible for a person to suffer from blood poisoning.
Cancer – although alcohol does not directly cause cancer, it works with carcinogens. The incidence of colon and rectal cancer is quite high among heavy alcohol drinkers.
Considering the numerous health problems that arise from excessive alcohol consumption, it is important that you or your loved one seek help in order to manage the addiction.