Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Why do I have a dull pain on my right side just under my rib cage after I drink alcohol?"
I am a 22 year old woman and I am not necessarily what you would consider a big drinker. I have two or three cocktails with friends two days out of the week. However, sometimes I notice that after I do this, I start to get a dull ache in my abdomen on the right side. The pain sometimes seems to move from the front to the back, as well. Any idea what this could mean?
It is important to get this pain checked out. Alcohol when taken in moderation can have health benefits and is not harmful to the body. However, three drinks may be more than recommended for your body size and gender. Excessive intake of alcohol can cause inflammation of the liver (hepatitis), which can present with a dull pain in the right upper portion of the abdomen. Other symptoms to look out for would be yellowing of the skin or eyes, darkening of the urine, or a light color to the bowel movements. Similarly, alcohol intake can worsen gall bladder sludge or stones, which can also give pain in this area. Other symptoms might be nausea and diarrhea or greasy bowel movements with meals. Alcohol intake can also be associate with pancreatitis, which can present with severe or more chronic abdominal pain located in the middle of the abdomen, sometimes going to the back. Finally, alcohol can cause gastritis, an inflammation of the stomach lining, which can cause pain and heartburn symptoms. I recommended getting checked out as soon as possible by your primary care doctor to determine what might be going on and whether further workup of your pain might be needed.
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