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Why do I feel pain and discomfort after drinking alcohol?

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Practicing since : 1966
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After drinking alchohol (I only drink vodka several times weekly, usually straight) I have had shooting pains in on my left side. Mostly on my left shoulder shooting into my arm and the left side of my face and recently my neck and right side of my back when I move into certain positions. It typically happens within minutes of consumpution and lasts about an hour. I am to the point where I avoid social occasions to help me avoid drinking. The discomfort has become that consistent. In september I went to and emergency room and after submitting to urine and blood tests that it was likely a pinched nerved (which cannot be certainly diagnosed by a non-neuroligist) The symptoms fit but the association with alchohol makes me very suspicious. Also, I have have hypertension that is controlled with metroprolol, and I smoke. Please help with insight and other thoughts. (stop smoking and drinking is already on my list).
Posted Sat, 8 Dec 2012 in Smoking and Alcohol Addiction
Answered by Dr. Anantharamakrishnan 2 hours later
Hi friend,
Welcome to Health Care Magic

Smoking and Hypertension, with Drinking are definite but AVOIDABLE risk factors for Coronary Heart Disease. You have not said of your Cholesterol – which is controllable. Family history also is against. Age is no guarantee against it – for any disease.

BLOOD PRESSURE TO BE CONTROLLED – STRICTLY (Metoprolol is good for pressure, chest pain, missed beats....)
CHECK LIPIDS (Cholesterol – HDL, LDL..., Triglyceride... / also liver function because of alcohol)

YOU SHOULD SEE A CARDIOLOGIST – Not only for present assessment but also establish a baseline for future assistance and emergency.
DO TMT (Treadmill Exercise ECG) – clarifies pain
DO ECHOcardiography – clarifies Valves, walls and function

You need NEUROLOGIC examination. You may need X-ray or MRI of Neck to see the vertebra, discs and extra neck rib, if any. He could also check your past seizure history.

Relation to alcohol could point to food pipe and/or stomach. A GASTRO-ENTEROLOGIST can do endoscopy and clarify the issue, directly.

All these can be done is a very short time, in a Multi-speciality Tertiary Care Centre.

In the mean time, simple analgesics like Acetaminophen and acid suppressants like Ranitidine or Omeprazole may help

Well, there is excellent hope for a near normal life. You are young and obviously, have begun the process to correct, by showing your motivation.

Take care
Wishing speedy recovery
God bless
Good luck
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Why do I feel pain and discomfort after drinking alcohol? 20 hours later
Hi Doc,
Initially I was apprehensive about using this service but your response are very thoughtful and suggestions will not be taken lightly. I thsnk you. I do plan to see a doctor in person again soon but am waiting for some insurance issues to be resolved. If any of these symptoms worsen or return I'll be forced to go to ER and pay out of pocket. I feel that something serious is happening.
For follow up: the good news is that my symptoms have disappeared after taking lots of liquids and abstaining from toxins. The bad news is that:
1. I know that absence of sympyoms does not mean absence of a problem so I still worry and stress which could worsen things.
2. I have other symptoms that have replaced the old. i still have sleeplessness and what I've researched to be tinnitus. My ears have been ringing all day.
3. When I did sleep I woke up to night sweats and the bridge of my mouth was a little sore. This went away minutes after being awake. Is this some indication that I had some kind of episode in my sleep (stroke/heart attack seizure)? The subsequent tinitus made me suspicious,
4. Having had abstained will I be okay? Does some of this damage indicate a irrepairable condition. Hearing loss, insomnia, fatigue etc...?

I would like to get your thoughts on all the information but specifically on the points above.

Again, Thank you. (Happy holidays as well)
Answered by Dr. Anantharamakrishnan 1 hour later

     We are pleased to see that you are happy – that is the very the purpose and motto of this service, Health Care Magic.

     Here are some responses to your thoughts – nearly point by point!!
     Yes – absence of proof is no proof of absence. But one should not be unnecessarily worrying. Have you not heard the anecdote of the lady of the house waking up her husband? - telling of noise in the kitchen and possibly a thief may be meddling... The sleepy spouse said thieves work silently and are unlikely to make noise; and slipped back into slumber. After a few minutes, she shook him up – there is silence in the kitchen and a thief may be at work! To worry is human nature – but could be managed and should be reasonable... Fear of a problem is worse than a problem itself. DO NOT WORRY
     Sleeplessness could be from worry / anxiety. It will settle down with time.
     Tinnitus is ringing in the ears; and could be due to the alcohol and/or its withdrawal. Again, it could clear with time...
     So will be night sweats. It is unlikely to be a stroke or seizure – usually they will leave other foot prints like froth in the mouth, tongue injury from biting, incontinence and so on. And why should they occur only at sleep? – not likely.
     ALL OF THESE APPEAR REVERSIBLE – it is very likely a question of time.

     You will benefit immensely from support of your family.
A GOOD friend will also be a great asset – Avoid company of anyone who drinks or smokes.
Social support groups help – check Alcoholics Anonymous in your area.
Work more – it takes the attention away from other things.
Develop hobbies. Go out - park, beach or cinema – have a change. Change.
Discuss with your doctor...

All will be well
All the best
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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