Alcohol’s Effects on the Body National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism NIAAA

August 30, 2022by bisnimda

long term effects of alcohol on the esophagus

Among cross-sectional studies, 8 were of high quality and 18 were of moderate quality in using the AHRQ evaluation checklist. Excessive alcohol consumption frequently causes mucosal damage in the upper region of the duodenum. Even in healthy people, a single episode of heavy drinking can result in duodenal erosions and bleeding. Animal studies have indicated that several mechanisms contribute to the development of these mucosal injuries (Ray et al. 1989) (for a review, see Bode and Bode 1992). First, alcohol can directly disturb the integrity of the mucosal epithelium.

  • The upper part of the stomach can sometimes slide into the chest above the diaphragm, known as a hiatal hernia.
  • People who drink heavily and are also smokers have an even higher risk; they are four times more likely to develop acute pancreatitis.
  • Follow-up time was calculated from the date of surgery to the date of the last contact.
  • Similarly, alcohol may impair the muscle movement in the small and large intestines, contributing to the diarrhea frequently observed in alcoholics.
  • How people react to the adverse effects of alcohol varies depending on age, gender, genetic background and other medical issues.

This phenomenon should be partly due to their different mechanisms and clinical features. Some studies indicated that alcohol consumption could increase the esophageal acid exposure, which is the main pathophysiology of RE (Fass, 2007). But NERD patients are prone to have low acid exposure, normal LES pressure and minimal esophageal motility abnormalities (Wong et al., 2004).

How is esophagitis diagnosed?

Your treatment options and outlook depend on the cause of your condition. Most healthy people improve within two to four weeks with proper treatment. Recovery may take longer for people with a weakened immune system or infection. Cutting back on the amount or frequency of drinking can reduce these risks. More research needs to be done on people, but the effects of long-term heavy alcohol use are already well-known. One standard drink is equivalent to 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of spirits.

Slurred speech, a key sign of intoxication, happens because alcohol reduces communication between your brain and body. This makes speech and coordination — think reaction time and balance — more difficult. Past guidance around alcohol use generally suggests a daily drink poses little risk of negative health effects — and might even offer a few health benefits. It is known that alcohol-related problems are affected by individual variations in the way that alcohol is broken down and eliminated by the body.

Intestinal Mucosal Injury

The mechanisms underlying the effects of alcoholic beverages on gastric acid secretion have not yet been identified. Moreover, researchers have shown that after beer consumption, gastric acid secretion also is stimulated by by-products of the fermentation process other than alcohol (Chari et al. 1993). Chronic alcohol abuse damages the salivary eco sober house ma glands and thus interferes with saliva secretion. In alcoholics this damage commonly manifests itself as an enlargement (i.e., hypertrophy) of the parotid gland, although the mechanisms leading to this condition are unknown. Moreover, alcoholics may suffer from inflammation of the tongue (i.e., glossitis) and the mouth (i.e., stomatitis).

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g., aspirin and ibuprofen) may aggravate the development of alcohol-induced acute gastric lesions. About one-third of heavy drinkers develop alcoholic hepatitis, where the liver become inflamed and swollen, and liver cells are destroyed. This hepatitis varies in severity from mild to severe, and patients may have jaundice, fever, nausea and vomiting, and abdominal pain. The mild form can last for years and lead to more liver damage, unless the patient stops drinking.

Table 1

Excessive drinking includes binge drinking, heavy drinking, and any drinking by pregnant women or people younger than age 21. Alcohol use disorder is a pattern of alcohol use that involves problems controlling your drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol or continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems. This disorder also involves having to drink more to get the same effect or having withdrawal symptoms when you rapidly decrease or stop drinking. Alcohol use disorder includes a level of drinking that’s sometimes called alcoholism.

long term effects of alcohol on the esophagus

Individuals with naturally occurring acid reflux or other related diseases are more likely to experience throat problems from drinking alcohol. Reflux esophagitis is usually due to a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD occurs when stomach contents like acids, frequently back up into the esophagus. Eosinophilic esophagitis (e-o-sin-o-FILL-ik uh-sof-uh-JIE-tis) is a chronic immune system disease. With this disease, a type of white blood cell, called an eosinophil, builds up in the lining of the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach.

What Are the Effects of Alcohol on the Body?

The pancreas helps regulate how your body uses insulin and responds to glucose. If your pancreas and liver don’t function properly due to pancreatitis or liver disease, you could experience low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia. A bacterial, viral or fungal infection in tissues of the esophagus may cause esophagitis. Infectious esophagitis is fairly rare and occurs most often in people with poor immune system function, such as people with HIV/AIDS or cancer. People with eosinophilic esophagitis may have other nonfood allergies. For example, sometimes allergens in the air, such as pollen, may be the cause.

The increase in alcohol consumption and frequency showed a stronger association with GERD. Lymphocytic esophagitis (LE) is an uncommon esophageal condition in which there are an increased number of white blood cells known as lymphocytes in the lining of the esophagus. Of heavy drinkers, 10%–20% develop cirrhosis, a serious condition that usually develops after 10 or more years of drinking.

The patients were followed every 3 months for the first year and then every 6 months for the next 2 years, and finally annually. The diagnostic examinations consisted of esophagography, computed tomography, chest X-ray, abdominal ultrasonography, and bone scan when necessary to detect recurrence and/or metastasis. Follow-up time was calculated from the date of surgery to the date of the last contact.

What Happens to Your Body When You Binge Drink

In contrast, alcohol does not affect the movements that propel food through the intestine (i.e., the propulsive wave motility) in either alcoholics or healthy subjects. These effects may contribute to the increased sensitivity to foods with a high sugar content (e.g., candy and sweetened juices), shortened transit time, and diarrhea frequently observed in alcoholics (Bode and Bode 1992). Drinking alcohol relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter, which normally prevents acid in your stomach from backing up into your esophagus. The sphincter doesn’t work as well when it has been relaxed by alcohol, so you are more likely to experience acid reflux, commonly called heartburn, after drinking. One limitation is that our study does not evaluate behavioral change in drinking after diagnosis, which may have ongoing effects on survival.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly referred to as GERD, is one of the most common disorders, and its incidence and prevalence have increased over the last two decades. GERD is characterized by the sensation of substernal burning caused by abnormal reflux of gastric contents backward up into the esophagus. GERD has two different manifestations, reflux esophagitis (RE) and non-erosive reflux disease (NERD), depending on the presence or absence of esophageal mucosal breaks. Symptoms of GERD are chronic and can significantly impair quality of life. Therefore, it has been regarded as a considerable health problem in most of the world.

Several studies proposed relevant pathogenesis of NERD such as esophageal hypersensitivity, incomplete acid suppression, abnormal tissue resistance (Fass et al., 2001; Moayyedi and Talley, 2006), etc. Alcohol, as one of the hyperosmotic foods, is a cause of esophageal hypersensitivity. It might loosen the tight junctions between esophageal epithelial cells so that gastric acid can easily intrude between epithelial cells and stimulate the terminals of sensory nerves when reflux (Barlow and Orlando, 2005). On the other hand, RE is manifested as esophageal mucosal injury, of which the gold standard for diagnosis is esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD). However, the diagnosis for NERD is more difficult, as it mainly depends on subjective reflux symptoms (Vakil et al., 2006).