Stomach pain after alcohol


Stomach pain often occurs after consuming alcohol the night before. The stomach pain is described as burning or stinging in the upper abdomen or behind the esophagus. Drinking alcohol turns the stomach into one increased gastric acid production stimulated and this leads to the characteristic pain. A Combination of alcohol and nicotine consumption the stomach discomfort can still aggravate.


Alcohol is one of the many possible Causes of Stomach Pain. This is related to the fact that alcohol is the Stimulates gastric acid secretion. The stomach acid is a caustic and therefore aggressive liquid, which is necessary, among other things, to break down food components. But because of its aggressiveness, the stomach that produces it has to protect itself from it at the same time. It does this primarily through the production of gastric mucus, which covers the stomach wall as protection and prevents gastric acid from penetrating. However, this is only the case when there is a balance between stomach acid and gastric mucus production.

A variety of factors can upset this balance. alcohol is one of them. He cranks although the Gastric acid secretion, but cares in parallel Not also for upregulating the Gastric mucus production. The aggressive hydrochloric acid predominates and there is a risk that the stomach will be damaged. This can manifest itself, for example, in the development of a stomach or small intestinal ulcer. These are often accompanied by pain, with the pain in one Gastric ulcer (Gastric ulcer) often increase after food intake, whereas those of the small intestine ulcer often improve with food intake. Also an inflammation of the stomach, one gastritis, can arise or be aggravated by alcohol consumption as a result of excess hydrochloric acid.

The situation is similar with the widely used one Reflux disease (gastroesophageal reflux disease = GERD). Certainly the negative influence of alcohol on the stomach depends on the one hand on the amount of consumption and on the other hand with the individual requirements of the person concerned.

Medically can be approximate Limits to daily alcohol consumption are advised. Women should not consume more than a maximum of 20 grams and men not more than a maximum of 30 grams of pure alcohol per day. A 0.3 liter glass of beer contains about 12 grams of alcohol, a 0.2 liter glass of wine about 18 and a 0.02 liter glass of whiskey about 7 grams. In addition to these limits - from a medical point of view - alcohol should not be drunk for at least two days a week. However, it should be noted that a lower weekly alcohol consumption than specified here is not harmful but rather beneficial to health.

What helps with stomach pain after alcohol?

If the stomach pain occurs only occasionally after drinking alcohol and it is not felt to be too severe, you can first try using basic measures put a stop to complaints. That includes that Drink plenty of chamomile tea or still water (No highly carbonated drinks such as fizzy drinks or soft drinks, and no orange or apple juice!), as well as the Eating a light, low-fat meal. If the stomach pain after alcohol consumption cannot be brought under control with these basic measures, it must be determined whether the complaints are caused by the above-described promotion of gastric acid secretion by the alcohol and the resultant Gastric mucosal irritation arise or through one Reflux (Reflux) of the acidic stomach contents into the esophagus.

Speak for the former happening steady, more or less constant pain in the central, sometimes more on the left, area of ​​the upper abdomen. What makes this case particularly complicated is the fact that the most common Pain reliever and anti-inflammatory drugs cause stomach upset themselves as they inhibit the production of the mucus that protects the stomach lining. For this reason, the concerned drugs like ibuprofen or acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirin®) should only be taken with extreme caution - and if possible not at all.

  • Side effects of Aspirin®
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Therefore, the most effective way to provide quick and permanent relief from stomach pain after alcohol is Drugs that reduce stomach acid production reduce. These include the so-called Proton pump inhibitors (PPI). The unwieldy name comes from the fact that these drugs such as Pantoprazole inhibit a transporter that transports protons (acid ions) from the cells of the gastric mucosa to the inside of the stomach.
Another class of active ingredients that reduce gastric acid production are the so-called H2 receptor antagonists. The H2 receptor is a molecule in the membrane of the cells of the gastric mucosa that reacts to the presence of histamine by promoting gastric acid secretion. It can be concluded from this that H2 receptor antagonists such as Ranitidine or cimetidine in the end the Reduce gastric acid secretion and thus can counteract stomach pain after alcohol.
Both named classes of active ingredients lead rarely to significant side effectsas long as they are only used selectively in the event of complaints and not permanently.

Patients who are relieved of stomach pain after alcohol by taking proton pump inhibitors or H2-receptor antagonists, but who feel better after the medication has worn off directly again similar complaints show, shouldn't make the mistake of taking the medication for a long time. In this case, it is likely that the Symptoms an underlying disease of the gastric mucosahow a gastric ulcer or, in the worst case, even gastric cancer is the basis and drinking alcohol is only the drop that brings the barrel to overflowing. So here is the urgent one Go to the doctor advisable to clarify the possibilities described.

For one Reflux of acidic stomach contents the esophagus is more like burning pain behind the breastbone and up to the throat. This reflux occurs because alcohol (in addition to nicotine or fatty foods) is one of the most potent inhibitors for the lower esophageal sphincter who is normally responsible for preventing this backflow. Since, in contrast to the cases mentioned above, there is no irritation of the gastric mucosa, the Use of common pain medication such as ibuprofen is less of a problem. However, it has been shown that proton pump inhibitors and H2 receptor antagonists are the most effective active ingredients for the rapid relief of stomach pain after alcohol in these patients too.

Stomach pain after alcohol and cigarettes

The combination of alcohol and cigarettes can worsen stomach pain.

People who suffer from stomach pains after alcohol often report that these symptoms get worse if they smoke the evening before or the morning after. This is because, like alcohol, nicotine lowers the tension in the lower esophageal sphincter and thus promotes the reflux of acidic stomach contents into the esophagus.

When cigarette smoke is inhaled, it not only gets into the lungs, but to a small extent also into the stomach. The smoke that arrives there attacks the gastric mucosa and, if you smoke regularly, it can lead to gastric mucosal inflammation. Under certain circumstances, this can develop complications in the form of a gastric ulcer or even gastric cancer. All of these complications can also result from excessive alcohol consumption, as described above. This shows that the combination of alcohol and cigarettes can have dangerous effects on the stomach and should therefore be prevented if possible.
Read more about the topic here: Hangover after alcohol- what to do?

Prevent stomach pain

The simplest, but possibly not exactly desired, measure to prevent stomach pain after alcohol is obviously the Doing without or at least reducing alcohol consumption. However, this does not mean that anyone who tends to have stomach pain after consuming alcohol must have a guilty conscience. For many patients, a relatively low level of alcohol is enough for severe stomach pain, while other people with significantly higher alcohol consumption do not develop any such symptoms.

Other tricks can help with such patients. This includes the Avoiding fatty foods while consuming alcohol. Dietary fat, just like alcohol, lowers the tension of the lower esophageal sphincter and thus promotes the return of acidic stomach contents into the esophagus. That too Drink enough still water between alcoholic drinks can help reduce the acidity of the stomach by diluting it.

Another option is to align the bed so that the Sufferers sleep with their upper body slightly elevated at night. This makes the reflux of stomach contents difficult and is a good way to prevent stomach pain after alcohol. A preventive measure that is more long-term is the Loss of excess weight In addition, it is advisable not to eat the last meal of the day too late in the evening, so that there is enough time until bedtime for the food to leave the stomach in the direction of the small intestine.

Effects of coffee

People who suffer from stomach pain after alcohol should Refrain from trying to wash down the discomfort with a coffee. Just like alcohol or cigarettes, coffee lowers the tension of the lower esophageal sphincter and thus does the rest of it To encourage reflux of the acidic stomach contents into the esophagus. Furthermore the coffee irritates the stomach lining additionally and also increases the production of gastric acid.

As an alternative to morning coffee, still water or chamomile tea are recommended. While the still water dilutes the stomach contents, chamomile is said to have a relaxing and anti-inflammatory effect.

Alcohol-related stomach pain with nausea

In addition to stomach pain, nausea is one of the most common complaints after consuming alcohol. Of course, the nausea can also occur without stomach pain, simply due to the effects of the alcohol. However, if both complaints are present in combination, it is possible that the Stomach irritation that only caused nausea or at least favored it.

For this reason, it is often already helpful to relieve stomach pain with the help of the measures described above. This often leads to an improvement or even a disappearance of the nausea. Of course, caution should be exercised when it comes to eating so as not to worsen the nausea - but if so, care should be taken in any case, not too greasy to eat. If these measures are unsuccessful, the nausea should be viewed as an independent expression and treated accordingly. Nausea medication (Antiemetics), like domperidone or Dimenhydrinate (Vomex®), promise quick improvement and can also be administered as a suppository if necessary.