Heartburn and Holiday Food

Head of the family cutting the turkey

Food is an important part of most holiday celebrations. This is one of the reasons everyone enjoys holidays so much! However, these big holiday dinners can sometimes be a bad thing – especially for the gut.

Also known as acid reflux, heartburn happens when acid in the stomach moves up into the esophagus through the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES is the muscle found between the esophagus and the stomach. When you swallow, this muscle opens to allow food into the stomach.

When suffering from heartburn, one may feel a burning sensation in the chest that can be accompanied by other symptoms such as stomach pain.

Heartburn can happen when the LES weakens, which is common as we age. However, it may also happen when immediately lying down after eating a heavy meal. A full stomach creates internal pressure that pushes the stomach acid into the esophagus.

 

Dealing with Heartburn During the Holidays

Heartburn is common during the holidays, especially as we tend to consume more food and drinks during this time of the year. With dinner parties, desserts, and alcohol, there is an increased risk of suffering from heartburn.

Taking over-the-counter medications before sitting down for a meal can help in controlling heartburn. Some over-the-counter medications available for treating heartburn include antacids (drugs that neutralize stomach acids), and acid blockers (drugs that reduce the production of stomach acid).

Over-the-counter medications may help alleviate the symptoms of heartburn, but here are a few tips to consider:

  • Know what triggers your heartburn
    If you have a history of heartburn, you probably have an idea of what triggers it. Onions, alcohol, chocolates, and soda are some of the most common stomach-irritating foods. Cutting back on these food items can help prevent heartburn.
  • Be selective with food
    Fat and sugar can provoke heartburn symptoms. Try to choose food that has less fat and sugar.
  • Savor each bite
    The amount of food you eat can make a difference. Take smaller bites instead of gorging meals.
  • Take your time
    People who eat quickly tend to suffer from heartburn. Eat slowly and take the time to enjoy food.
  • Go on a walk after dinner
    Taking a walk after dinner can help prevent heartburn, as it aids in digesting food.

 

Mild cases of heartburn can often be managed with over-the-counter medications, but if you experience heartburn or reflux twice a week or more, you may have Gastroesophagael Reflux Disease, also known as GERD.

Many times GERD can be managed with medication and dietary changes. However, if you have chronic acid reflux symptoms that persist over a long period of time, despite medication therapy and dietary changes therapy, antireflux surgery can be effective in treating GERD.

If you are experiencing chronic heartburn or acid reflux that no longer responds to medicine or a revised diet, the knowledgeable team of surgeons at Premier Surgical in Knoxville can help. To learn more about your options, visit the Premier Surgical Acid Reflux webpage. Don’t let heartburn keep you from enjoying this, and many holidays to come.

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