An ulcer is a sore that develops in the lining of the stomach, esophagus or small intestine. When stomach acid comes in contact with the affected area, pain or discomfort may be felt in the abdomen. According to the Mayo Clinic, bacteria causes most stomach ulcers, and alcohol can aggravate the condition.
Does Alcohol Cause Ulcers?
It was commonly thought that diet was a major cause of ulcers. Spicy foods and alcohol consumption were thought to cause stomach ulcers. According to the Mayo Clinic, bacterial infection is behind most stomach ulcers. While alcohol may add to the risk, it is unclear if it is the cause.
Alcohol and Increased Risk
While alcohol may not be the direct cause of a stomach ulcer, the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC) says that alcohol increases the risk of getting a stomach ulcer. Other factors that increase risk are smoking, being age 50 and older and genetics. The NDDIC says that eliminating alcohol will reduce the risk of developing ulcers.
Alcohol and Flare-ups
According to the Mayo Clinic, alcohol can irritate the mucous lining of the stomach, which may lead to flare-ups of ulcer- related pain. If diagnosed with a stomach ulcer, consider avoiding alcohol to reduce the risk of irritation. If consuming alcohol with an ulcer, drink in moderation.
Treating an Ulcer
Because most ulcers are caused by a bacterial infection, treatment usually consists of antibiotics. Your doctor also may ask you to monitor your alcohol intake to help prevent further aggravating the condition. Also, if you’re taking antibiotics, ask your doctor if it is safe to drink.
Talk to Your Doctor
Your doctor can give you more information about stomach ulcers and alcohol. If you think that you have a stomach ulcer, or are concerned about your ulcer’s reaction with alcohol, bring it up on your next appointment.