With the holidays quickly approaching, many people decided to engage in festive seasonal traditions such as shopping, eating, and partying. Others, however, experience a rather unpleasant feeling around this time of year. Many of us notice increased heartburn like symptoms around the holidays. Why do so many of us experience heartburn this time of year? Well, to answer this question, let’s first analyze the causes of heartburn.
Heartburn is a type of indigestion or a burning sensation felt in the chest caused by acid regurgitation into the esophagus. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (or GERD) is an extreme form of heartburn that can actually cause long-term problems if left untreated. Esophageal cancer or a disease called Barrett’s Esophagus can affect a person if they don’t take action against persistent acid reflux.
There is no single cause of heartburn as several factors contribute to continuous reflux problems. One should avoid fatty foods such as fried meats and holiday chocolate delights. In addition, you should watch your caffeine and alcohol consumption.
It can be difficult to avoid these types foods and beverages around the holiday season. If you suffer from incessant heartburn, however, it might be prudent to limit your intake. In addition, if you do decide to consume your favorite holiday treats, wait at least three hours before you lie down for bed. Also, you may want to consider sleeping upright rather then flat on your back. Try keeping your head up at an angle to prevent acid from reaching beyond your stomach.
If all else fails, it will be necessary to visit your certified gastroenterologist. Your doctor might want to perform an endoscopic exam to determine if you have GERD. In addition, your doctor might give you a prescription along with diet and exercise advise to control your symptoms. Several over-the-counter reflux medications are available. There are Histamine-2 (H2) Blockers such as Pepcid and Zantac. Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) such as Prevacid and Prilosec are also available. They both treat acid reflux differently so do your research and be sure to ask your gastroenterologist which is best for you.