Alcohol and caffeine are two substances that can irritate the lining of your digestive system. Stomach pains are common and usually harmless. If you develop severe or recurring stomach pain, talk with your doctor. Recurring pain after consuming alcohol or caffeine may be a sign of an ulcer, gastroesophageal reflux disease, also called GERD or irritable bowel syndrome. Do not attempt to treat your symptoms without first consulting your health care provider.
Consuming alcoholic beverages and caffeinated products can trigger pain in the middle of your stomach from a peptic ulcer. These substances can aggravate the open sores found in your esophagus, stomach or the duodenum, the first part of the small intestine that is closest to the stomach. Ulcers are commonly the result of an infection with the H. pylori bacteria in the lining of your digestive system, the regular use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and alcohol abuse. Ulcers form when the protective lining in your digestive tract becomes eroded, exposing the soft tissue beneath. Most ulcers are treated with antibiotics, proton pump inhibitors, H2 blockers and dietary modifications.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
GERD is a condition that causes frequent episodes of heartburn. The main symptom of GERD is a burning, painful sensation in the middle of the lower part of the chest and upper-portion of the stomach. Symptoms are the result of stomach fluids entering the esophagus as a result of a malfunction of the esophageal sphincter muscle. The sphincter is a flat muscle that acts as a flap, keeping stomach fluids out of the esophagus. If the sphincter does not close entirely or opens without cause, you will develop heartburn and other GERD symptoms. Caffeine and alcohol are two substances that the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse recommends avoiding to prevent GERD symptoms.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
If you have irritable bowel syndrome you may develop pain in the middle of the abdomen after consuming caffeine or alcohol. The exact cause of IBS is not fully understood by the medical community, but the condition causes erratic contractions in the colon, resulting in stomach pain, bloating, cramping, chronic diarrhea or constipation. Certain foods can trigger IBS symptoms, such as chocolate, dairy products and some fruits and vegetables. IBS is mainly managed through dietary modifications and stress reduction.
If you develop blood in you stool, experience severe abdominal cramping or become short of breath, call your doctor immediately. Other conditions that may cause stomach pain from consuming alcohol and caffeine include cancer and inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease.