What’s the perfect concoction for acid reflux and heartburn? What else but a holiday table setting full of roasted or fried poultry dishes, puddings, cakes as well as traditional soups, juices and alcoholic drinks. For once in your life, you may have experienced a burning feeling down the back of our throat and most people are familiar about this condition right after diving into festive meals.
Acid reflux or GERD (Gastro-esophageal reflux disease) cases are constantly increasing and more and more people are not aware how this condition triggers and how they are prevented.
If your stomach is full, or if you bend over after having eaten a lot, you might find yourself suffering with it. The lining of the stomach is well adapted to withstand acid blasts - though this system can be disrupted by the inflammatory damage (gastritis) caused by heavy drinking and some drugs. The esophagus, however, has a more delicate, sensitive lining, hence heartburn. For many, the holidays revolve around family but the feasting starts in front of the dining table. The primary reason is that people tend to overstuff themselves and that they can get into trouble by eating too much overall, eating too much within a short time and eating bothersome foods that frequently trigger reflux (Dr. Jacqueline Wolf, a gastroenterologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston). Typically, the main culprits during this season are the served fatty foods and alcohol. Fatty foods could slow down the emptying of the stomach into the intestines, which in turn places more pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter. Meanwhile, too much alcohol could promote reflux. A person’s stomach has extraordinary powers of expansion but there are limits. If left untreated, chronic acid reflux could lead to increased risk of esophageal cancer.
Though the prevalence of GERD condition has been generally lower compared to western countries (Prevalence, clinical spectrum and health care utilization of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease in a Chinese population: a population-based study, Wong et al, 2003), the population-based studies indicate that the prevalence is rising, which can be attributed to aging population, the obesity epidemic, and changes in sleep pattern (Gastroesophageal reflux disease and obesity, Lewis JV, 2009).
So how do you spot a heartburn?
People experience a pulsating and burning chest pain during acid reflux as the stomach acid splashes into the esophagus. This aching sensation worsens when people lie down since that gravity keeps the food in the stomach so it is less likely to escape into the esophagus. Most people have initial symptoms of bitter tastes in their mouth as the acid from the stomach makes its way towards their throat. Likewise, people with asthma may trigger it because GERD is usually followed by coughing and wheezing. There is also a difficulty in swallowing due to sore throat and the damage caused by the acid to the tissues.
Patients with GERD experience this condition, recurrently, for a long period and is managed or treated all throughout their lives. There are three available management and/or preventive measures one can adapt to avoid periodic GERD. Those who have already suffered it might need to change their lifestyle and try to identify and avoid things that may bring on symptoms or make them worse. This may involve the kind of daily diet you have as well as any medications that could worsen the symptoms. You may also resort with over-the-counter (OTC) medicines to provide temporary relief of heartburn. The most commonly prescribed medicines to treat GERD are H2 blockers and the more powerful PPIs (proton pump inhibitors). These reduce or limit acid secretion in your stomach. As for others who have frequent recurring GERD, a surgery to strengthen the barrier between the stomach and esophagus may be the best choice.
Nevertheless, prevent the holiday from becoming a heartburn season and keep in mind the below advises:
A. Identify food triggers.
Common GERD triggers include onions, garlic, fatty or fried foods, citrus fruits, caffeine, alcohol, mint and tomatoes, but triggers can vary among people with the condition. Know what would be triggering yours and ensure to consume less of those foods.
B. Less drinking more talking
Alcohol can relax the lower esophageal sphincter muscle; thus, make some people’s reflux act up. In addition, the carbonation in most alcoholic drinks can leave someone feeling bloated. Drinking plain water with meals helps to dilute stomach acid and improve digestion (Michael F. Picco, M.D., Does drinking water during or after a meal disturb digestion?, 2015).
C. Going with smaller portions
These festive days should always be met with people not skipping any meals. Take a good small breakfast and lunch, and eat small portions slowly at dinner. Avoid stuffing your stomachs too much in a single night. You may also resort to using smaller plates to avoid overeating and enjoy tasting all the dishes in the table.
D. Immediately take antacids
If you encounter a postmeal heartburn, quickly take an antacid to relieve acid indigestion, upset stomach and peptic ulcer. Take antacids with Magnesium Trisciliate, Simethicone, Aluminum Hydroxide Dried Gel, Magnesium Carbonate, Attapulgit Mormoiron, and Aluminum Phosphate.
E. Resist post-meal naps
Laying down while you have a full stomach might cause acid reflux or digestive issues. If you are full, you must be in a sitting or standing position so that the gravity will keep the food in your stomach and help digestion. Wait 2-3 hours after eating before you take a nap or sleep.