Link between Excessive Drinking, Ulcers, Pylori, and Alcohol?

Recent research into alcoholism has uncovered the chemical salt that is perhaps the primary factor that triggers the compulsion to drink alcohol. This chemical salt is known as Tetrahydro-isoquinoline (THIQ). The more quickly a person drinks, the more time it takes for the body to dispel the alcohol, and the greater the alcohol affects the person.  It takes longer for the body to dispel the alcohol because quickly ingesting concentrated amounts of alcohol results in gastric movement, which causes the pyloric (the muscular valve between the stomach and the small intestine) to spasm, frequently resulting in vomiting and preventing the breakdown of the alcohol by the liver.

Alcohol is usually broken down by the enzymes in the liver into acetaldehyde and then into acetate, which, in turn, is broken down into carbon dioxide (eliminated when a person exhales) and water (which is expelled as urine by the bladder).

Heavy amounts of alcohol are transferred throughout the body by the blood.  If the alcohol elimination system is greatly overloaded, it cannot break down the alcohol correctly, and THIQ forms in the liquid that surrounds the cells in the blood.

Interestingly, THIQ is a salt that needs acetaldehyde, much like table salt needs water.  What this means is that the THIQ craves acetaldehyde, which does not get broken down into acetate and then expelled as carbon dioxide (through the breath) and water (via the urine).  This process then triggers the body’s need for more alcohol to feed acetaldehyde to the THIQ.

The more acetaldehyde that the THIQ receives, the more it grows.  The more the THIQ grows, the greater the demand for acetaldehyde.  The result is the compulsion to drink, which is characteristic of alcoholics.

When food enters the stomach, the stomach contracts and mixes the food to facilitate digestion; under normal conditions, the food then passes from the stomach into the small intestine. At the end of the stomach leading into the small intestine, is the pylorus.

The cells of the stomach lining produce a complex called mucopolysaccharide (CMPS) that protects the surface of the stomach from hydrochloric acid.  Hydrochloric acid is manufactured by the Chief cells in the stomach lining and helps digest food.

Ulcers result from the wearing away of the stomach lining due to the breakdown of the CMPS and eventual growth and spreading by Helicobacter pylori, a spiral-shaped bacterium.  Helicobacter pylori resist being covered over by the CMPS, thus allowing the hydrochloric acid to erode the stomach surface.

The relationship between alcohol, ulcers, and the Helicobacter pylori bacteria is this:  Excessive drinking of concentrated alcohol helps wear away the complex CMPS that covers the stomach lining.  Once this lining is unprotected, the Helicobacter pylori bacteria can start forming and spreading, leading to an ulcer. It is worth mentioning that there are two forms of stomach cancer that are also attributed to Helicobacter pylori infection.  Thus, excessive drinking seems to play an important part in the development of both stomach ulcers AND stomach cancer. That is, the person who feels the compulsion to drink increasing amounts of alcohol is certainly at risk of developing ulcers (or stomach cancer).

Can I Drink If I Have an Ulcer?

If you have been diagnosed with an ulcer, it can be dangerous to continue to drink alcohol while suffering from this medical issue. Before deciding to drink, you should speak to your physician about your alcohol use, since they know the most about your condition and can provide the most accurate information about your prognosis and treatment plan. It is generally suggested that people with ulcers avoid things that can trigger symptoms or make them worse, including alcohol. Over time, the consequences of addiction on your body can be more pronounced, and if you have a hard time staying away from drinking alcohol, it could be a good idea to speak to your doctor about getting help.

However, it is important to be aware of the fact that drinking alcohol when you have an ulcer can exacerbate the symptoms and potentially lead to dangerous complications. If complications arise, it can involve longer healing time and the need for more invasive treatments. Complications associated with ulcers can include bleeding, perforation of the affected area, obstruction of the affected area which prevents food from passing through the digestive tract, and/or peritonitis, which is an inflammation of the membrane that lines the abdomen. These complications can be severe and life-threatening.

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