Drinking too much alcohol can take a severe toll on health. In addition to having adverse effects on the brain, heart, and immune system, excessive consumption of beer, wine, or liquor over a long period may damage the digestive system. Long-term effects of alcohol on the intestines and other parts of the digestive tract may lead to potentially severe, life-threatening complications.
If you or a loved one has an alcohol use disorder, Promises Behavioral Health can help. Our alcohol detox center gives clients a safe, comfortable place to start the path toward wellness and a higher quality of life. Reach us at 844.875.5609 to learn more about how we can help you achieve better health and freedom from addiction.
What Is the Digestive System?
The digestive system, also known as the gastrointestinal or GI tract, takes in foods and beverages and helps the body break them down. It comprises the following organs:
- Small intestine
- Large intestine (colon)
These organs also interact with the pancreas, gallbladder, and liver to process solids and liquids. They help the body retain helpful substances that may assist with growth and tissue repair while moving waste out of the body.
What Are the Long-Term Effects of Alcohol on the Digestive System?
The long-term effects of alcohol on the stomach, intestines, esophagus, and other organs may be devastating. Starting at the top of the GI tract, here is a summary of the disastrous effects alcohol has on the entire digestive system.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly referred to as GERD, is a common disorder characterized by gastric acid flowing back into the esophagus. It causes a burning sensation in the chest, upper abdominal or chest pain, and difficulty swallowing. Though it may have many causes, alcohol consumption significantly increases the risk, especially long-term heavy drinking.
Alcoholic gastritis is a condition that occurs when beer, wine, or liquor erodes and irritates the stomach lining. In many instances, stronger beverages with higher alcohol by volume (ABV), such as vodka, whiskey, and gin, are most likely to cause gastritis. Common symptoms include fatigue, upper abdominal pain, bloating, and loss of appetite.
Peptic ulcers are sores that form on the stomach lining and the small intestine’s upper part. When alcohol makes contact with digestive organs, it may cause them to become irritated and inflamed. As a result, ulcer-causing bacteria and chemicals in medications, such as NSAIDs, may have a greater chance of causing sores to develop. Symptoms include burning, nausea, and a feeling of fullness in the stomach.
Alcohol is a corrosive substance that can deteriorate the esophagus, stomach, intestines lining, mouth, and throat. Consequently, cancer-causing toxins may more easily infiltrate the lining of these organs. Additionally, it contains carcinogens, which can cause certain cancers. Those who regularly consume large volumes of beer, wine, or liquor may be more susceptible to developing oral, esophageal, stomach, and colorectal cancer.
Seek Help from Promises Alcohol Detox Center
The long-term effects of alcohol on the digestive system may be detrimental. If you or someone you love struggles with alcohol addiction, Promises Behavioral Health can help. Our comprehensive approach to treatment equips individuals with the tools they need to achieve and maintain sobriety. We can create an individualized care plan that meets your unique needs and gets you on the path to long-term recovery.
At Promises, we understand how difficult it can be to face an alcohol addiction alone. The clinicians and therapists in our alcohol detox center will be with you every step of the way as you recover. Reach out today at 844.875.5609 or complete our brief online form so that we can get started helping you find freedom from addiction.