Introduction: Consumption of large amounts of alcohol can promote regurgitation of hydrochloric acid into the esophagus and therefore cause symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease. Most individuals who experience alcohol-related health problems are not addicted to alcohol, but they usually show a hazardous pattern of alcohol consumption.
Objectives: Objectives The aim of the study was to examine the gastrointestinal tract in hazardous drinkers and to establish whether such alcohol consumption pattern may be an important risk factor for developing gastroesophageal reflux.
Patients and methods: Primary care patients (n = 2000; mean age 41.1 years) from Warsaw, Poland, responded to 2 surveys: AUDIT (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test) and Carlsson's questionnaire. Patients characterized as hazardous drinkers and having symptoms of reflux disease entered the second phase of the study: gastroscopy and pH-metry. The results were compared with those obtained in the control group (n = 60), which included patients with reflux symptoms but who abstained from alcohol or were moderate drinkers.
Results: According to the survey results, 18.75% of the study group showed a hazardous pattern of alcohol consumption, while 33% had symptoms of gastrointestinal reflux disease. A positive pH-metry result was observed in 87.5% of the hazardous drinkers. Endoscopic features of esophagitis were observed in 64% of the patient group and 28% of the control group. Hazardous alcohol consumption and male sex may be the risk factors for developing reflux-related esophagitis.
Conclusions: Primary care physicians should routinely ask their patients about alcohol consumption. Hazardous alcohol drinking may be a risk factor for developing reflux disease.