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Recurring Abdominal Pain

Alcohol has several direct effects on your digestive tract within hours of your drink. The fact that your pain is provoked by alcohol may be a strong clue to your diagnosis, and it might be the key to your recovery.

Alcohol loosens the sphincter that seals your stomach and stomach contents from your esophagus between swallows. For this reason, one common cause of pain that follows alcoholic beverages is gastroesophageal reflux.

Alcohol is an irritant to the stomach lining and liver. Pain from irritation of the stomach lining is named gastritis. Liver irritation results in alcoholic hepatitis.

Alcohol also stimulates activity within digestive organs that help you to digest high calorie substances. Two of these organs include the gallbladder and the pancreas. If you have problems affecting the gallbladder or pancreas, your symptoms can be provoked by alcohol. Relevant problems include

  • acute pancreatitis

  • chronic pancreatitis

  • gallstones.

During and after your evaluation, it will be especially important for you to stop drinking alcohol.

Your initial evaluation may include lab tests to evaluate the pancreas, an ultrasound to evaluate your gallbladder, or a test to inspect the inside lining of the stomach. To evaluate the stomach, your doctor might recommend esophagogastroduodenoscopy ("EGD" or "endoscopy," in which you swallow a small camera on a flexible tube) or a series of x-rays after you swallow barium ("upper GI series").


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