Can Alcohol Cause
When you feel a burning sensation or warmth in the chest,
chances are there that you are suffering from heartburn. This common ailment is caused mainly by stomach acid.
However, different people may have varied reasons for experiencing it, though problem with food digestion is a
common symptom in most such patients. Heartburn should be treated in its preliminary stages, as a patient suffering
from this disease continuously may eventually get affected by more serious complications like ulcers and even have
problems in performing routine tasks.
Many people ask if alcohol can cause heartburn or not. It has been seen that people
who drink alcohol regularly often complain of heartburn. Several researches have also suggested that
alcoholism and heartburn are related. In fact, many doctors opine that the chance of an alcoholic suffering
from this disease is greater than his/her non-alcoholic counterpart.
Before going into details of how alcoholism can cause
heartburn, it would be prudent to understand both these diseases separately and then find out how alcoholism can
trigger the other.
Heartburn – what is it?
When you eat food, it passes
through a tube called the esophagus (food pipe) to reach the stomach. A tight muscle is present in the lower
region of esophagus, which is called LES or Lower Esophageal Sphincter. It prevents the food from traveling up
the esophagus. However, sometimes the LES does not close tightly enough, which allows partly digested materials
from the stomach to climb back up into the esophagus. This causes irritation in the esophagus, and leads to
heartburn and other symptoms.
Alcoholic dependence is a
serious disease as patients suffering from it have a strong urge to drink irrespective of the negative
consequences that such act gives rise to. Despite facing relationship disputes and health problems, addicts
often find it difficult to let go off their drinking habits. Alcoholism may be caused due to serious
psychological problems like elevated stress levels, depression, and inadequate coping mechanisms, or due to
social factors such as the influence of peers, family, and society.
How Alcoholism and Heartburn are
Excessive alcohol intake
gives rise to various reactions in different people. Heartburn is a common occurrence in people who are in the
habit of consuming alcohol in large quantities over a long period of time. Though most people drink alcohol as
they feel it allows them to relax, it can cause the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to open, which in turn will
trigger heartburn. In fact, excessive alcohol intake is known to boost the relaxation of LES, thus allowing
stomach acid to climb out the esophagus and damage it. Such movement of stomach acid out of the stomach and up
the food pipe triggers a burning sensation in the chest.
Consumption of alcohol can
also cause erratic progressive contractions when you swallow food. Such unbalanced rhythm of swallowing is
likely to give the stomach acid a chance to enter into the esophagus and act as the origin of
People who drink wine and
beer in large amounts only help to boost the acid production in their stomach. Alcohol is also known to make the
esophagus sensitive to acid. Inflammation or swelling in the protective lining of esophagus is yet another
downside of uncontrolled alcohol intake. All these factors give rise to a painful burning sensation just behind
or below the breastbone, which often climbs up to reach your chest and may even spread to your throat or
Since alcohol can cause
peptic ulcers to develop and obstruct the healing process of ulcers that are already present, its intake can
damage the stomach's protective layer, which may eventually give rise to heartburn.
Precautionary steps to be taken
Now that it has been
established how the intake of alcohol,
especially in large amounts, can cause acid reflux symptoms, it pays to take some
precautionary measures to steer clear of the pain. Though giving up on uncontrolled drinking binges would be
ideal, you can take these steps if you are not in the mood to give up on your drinking habits
Use club soda or water to dilute your alcoholic
Choose small amounts of wine or non-alcoholic
Stick to moderate amounts of alcoholic beverage
intake. 2-3 beers, 1-2 mixed drinks, and 12 to 16 ounces of wine are the suggested amounts to play safe.
Remember the alcoholic drinks that worsen your
condition and steer clear of them as much as possible.