The consumption of alcohol is a favorite social past time of many working adults. For some, alcohol consumption is rather negligible, with consumption at less than a few drinks per month. For other adults, however, the consumption of alcohol may be a daily activity, reaching far beyond the component of social interaction.
Complications of alcohol consumption reach far and wide. Most notably, individuals who consume alcohol regularly are placing themselves at risk for developing conditions such as cirrhosis of the liver. For others, the consumption of alcohol may lead to a more sudden, life threatening complication known as Mallory-Weiss Syndrome.
While rare, Mallory-Weiss syndrome, in the alcohol consumer, can lead to significant gastrointestinal complication. Characterized by a tear in the stomach, at the point where the esophagus and the stomach meet, the complications most often present, in the alcoholic, as bleeding from the arterial blood vessel.
Early symptoms of Mallory-Weiss syndrome, in the alcoholic, are vomiting and heavy, boisterous hiccups. The complications may be directly related to the increase in abdominal pressure and changes in blood pressure throughout the body. Because the tear leads to a change in the electrolyte balance, the onset of nausea and vomiting are common, often with evidence of blood.
For the chronic alcohol consumer, the vomiting of blood and changes to abdominal pressure often demonstrate the presence of the complication which is then confirmed by endoscopic diagnosis. In addition to resolution of the Mallory-Weiss syndrome tear, the alcohol consumer may also require the use of medications to control the development of peptic ulcers and gastritis.
When suffering from Mallory-Weiss syndrome, the first issue of concern is restoring electrolyte levels and appropriate blood levels. Usually, this is achieved through blood transfusions and IV fluids. While the bleeding artery will usually cease on its own, occasionally surgery may be needed to cauterize the artery to stop the flow of blood.
While consuming alcohol is a leading cause of Mallory-Weiss syndrome, there are some patients who suffer from the complication without alcohol introduction. Regardless of the cause and origin, the successful treatment of the bleeding artery is key and prevention is the secondary concern. In many cases, alcohol consumption becomes restricted or negligible and the patient is then restored to a healthy diet and exercise program so as to regulate electrolyte levels and homeostasis in the body.
As with any gastric complication, the key to your optimal health and recovery lies in the early detection, diagnosis and treatment. Delaying the treatment of Mallory-Weiss syndrome may only further complicate not only your GI tract but also upset the balance of electrolyte balance, ultimately leading to further life threatening complications.