Like Mr. Grinch, heartburn can crush your holiday. In fact, 35 percent of Black Americans have acid reflux. What you may not realize is that burning in your chest after eating may be a sign that you have GERD. Fortunately, there are easy ways to prevent it.
What causes heartburn?
“Heartburn is caused by acidic stomach content moving into the esophagus, or gullet, which is much less resistant to acid,” Dr. James East, a gastroenterologist at Mayo Clinic Healthcare in London says. “This results in irritation and damage to the lining of the esophagus, literally a burn, that causes pain.”
Some holiday favorites can be culprits. Eating large, fatty, greasy or spicy meals can trigger heartburn, as can onions, citrus fruits, tomato-based foods, and even chocolate and peppermint. Alcohol, fizzy beverages and caffeine can bring on heartburn, too.
Chronic heartburn is known as GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease.
So how can you avoid it and still enjoy your holiday celebration?
Taking antacids or even acid-suppressing drugs before eating can reduce heartburn symptoms, East shares. But, he warns, don’t use them to overindulge.
While these medications lower acid, they don’t stop the regurgitation that can accompany reflux, so overeating can still lead to uncomfortable symptoms, East notes.
“Moderation in both food and alcohol, and enjoying the range of dishes available from your host is a better strategy than additional medication,” he said in a Mayo Clinic news release.
Reducing anxiety and stress might also help.