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Excessive Drinking and the Digestive Tract

By Deborah Ross
 
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Alcoholism related image
Photo: Getty Images

Heartburn -- Alcoholic drinks always crop up on the list of foods that can trigger heartburn. The NDDIC says that incidences of heartburn, or acid indigestion, twice a week or more might signal gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. When it escalates to GERD, the concerns become scars and strictures on the esophagus lining.

Chronic pancreatitis -- Heavy alcohol use is the leading cause of this disease, which creates an inflammation of the pancreas that can result in bleeding, infection and permanent tissue damage.

In addition, there’s acute pancreatitis, also linked to heavy alcohol use. It can come on suddenly and painfully and can be life-threatening if not treated quickly. One acute attack, if it damages the pancreatic duct, can lead to chronic pancreatitis, said the NDDIC.

Also providing compelling reasons to watch alcohol intake is the “Long-Term Health Risks” portion of the CDC’s Alcohol Use and Health Fact Sheet. As far as digestive diseases go, the list includes gastritis and cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver and colon, and for hepatitis C patients, worsening of liver function.

For you and your loved one, the question is, are all these risks worth taking for the sake of alcohol?

Sources:

“Cirrhosis.” National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Web. 25 Jan. 2012.
http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/cirrhosis/index.aspx

“Heartburn, Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER), and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Web. 25 Jan. 2012.
http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/gerd/index.aspx

“Pancreatitis.” National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Web. 25 Jan. 2012.
http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/pancreatitis/index.aspx

“Alcohol Use and Health Fact Sheet.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web. 25 Jan. 2012.
http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm

Reviewed January 26, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jessica Obert

Add a Comment3 Comments

Susan Cody HERWriter Guide

More than one drink a day makes a woman a heavy drinker?

A glass of wine should be about 4oz and many women have two glasses with lunch or dinner every day. This is not heavy drinking and is within the guidelines of no more than 14 units per week for women.

~Susan

January 26, 2012 - 2:00pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Remember too, Dark beer and red wine also contribute to excess gas production

January 26, 2012 - 12:52pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Great point, Jill!

Kathy,
Puristat Digestive Specialist

January 26, 2012 - 12:53pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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