*Post medically reviewed by Vicky Magobet on August 1, 2022
Whether you experience a slight squeeze or a sharp stabbing sensation, chest tightness or pain can be scary. You may wonder if your drinking habits could cause this frightening side effect — the answer is yes.
Drinking too much alcohol can be traumatic for your body, causing serious issues like hypertension and heart damage. Keep reading to learn more about chest pain or tightness after drinking alcohol and what you can do to protect your health.
Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol harms the body in many ways. Perhaps you experience some chest pain after a night of heavy drinking. Or, maybe you suspect your alcohol use is contributing to some heart issues. While only a doctor can say for sure, alcohol misuse can have immediate and lasting physical effects. Here are some main reasons you may be experiencing chest pain after consuming alcohol:
Chronic alcohol misuse can contribute to hypertension, which can damage the heart over time and increase risk factors like:
Severe drinking habits can also lead to alcoholic cardiomyopathy, which is when your heart's muscles overstretch and eventually weaken, changing your heart's size. Alcoholic cardiomyopathy can cause scar tissue to build up in your heart.
The change in your heart's shape and excessive scarring can disrupt your nervous system and how effectively it regulates your heart rate and blood flow. Some main symptoms that indicate you may have alcohol cardiomyopathy include:
While alcoholic cardiomyopathy's symptoms are severe, the disease itself is rare. Only 1% to 2% of heavy alcohol users develop this condition. Genetics and exposure to other substances also determine an individual's likelihood of developing alcoholic cardiomyopathy.
If you experience chest pains after consuming alcohol, your next steps should be to stop drinking immediately and contact your doctor. While stopping drinking may be challenging, especially if you often drink heavily or abuse alcohol, ensuring you do not worsen any existing damage is essential.
You may need to change your daily habits to make this more achievable. Avoid places where they sell alcohol and make sure your friends are on board with not drinking while you’re together. Unfortunately, breaking an alcohol addiction requires that you completely avoid it for a while.
The simplest way to prevent chest pain from drinking alcohol is to stop drinking or reduce the amount you drink. Most people who experience chest pain from consuming alcohol only do so if they drink more than the recommended level or have a history of alcohol abuse.
If you experience chest pain even after drinking a small amount and are prone to anxiety or other panic disorders, it is wise to stop drinking or begin an alcohol detox until your anxiety improves or you can seek treatment. Individuals with severe acid reflux attacks can treat the pain associated with drinking with over-the-counter medication, but it is also wise to limit alcohol intake as well.
If you are experiencing chest pain or tightness, you're probably looking for answers as to why. While there are multiple possibilities, your first step is to visit your health care provider. Only a medical professional can properly diagnose the chest pain or tightness you may be experiencing.
Chest pains are not always a definite sign of alcoholic cardiomyopathy, and your doctor may perform a series of tests to understand your symptoms better and create an accurate diagnosis. After your doctor identifies the source of your chest pain, they will discuss treatment options with you. If your chest pain results from your alcohol consumption, the best thing you can do for your health and safety is to stop drinking.
If you have any concerns about your drinking or know you are addicted to alcohol, the best course of action is to get alcohol addiction treatment. Even if your chest pains result from other conditions like high blood pressure, stopping drinking can offer health benefits such as improving your symptoms and allowing you to receive medical care specific to your needs.
At Diamond House Detox, we offer comprehensive medical care to help you treat alcohol addiction and any underlying health conditions or mental health concerns to help you become the best version of yourself. We personalize our comprehensive alcohol rehab treatment plans to your needs. We will take the time to understand you and your symptoms to make an accurate assessment for a treatment plan and strategy for managing withdrawal symptoms.