3 tips to battle holiday acid reflux

3 tips to battle holiday acid reflux

One of the best things about the holiday season – especially Thanksgiving – is all the scrumptious food we get to enjoy with our loved ones.

But for many of us, this holiday pleasure has an uncomfortable consequence, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or more commonly known as acid reflux.

According to the American College of Gastroenterology, more than 60 million Americans experience acid reflux one or more times a month, and over 15 million experience it every day.

“There are so many everyday foods that make reflux worse,” says Dr. Marc Mesleh, a minimally invasive foregut surgeon at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill.

“Acidic fruits, chocolate, alcohol, spicy foods and caffeine are just some of the things we digest that relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter, the muscle between the esophagus and stomach that normally is the barrier for acid reflux. When you digest foods and drinks that relax this muscle, it means all the delicious food you consume can easily come back up into the esophagus and cause irritation or heartburn.”

It’s common for many people to have acid reflux after overeating, especially around the holiday season. Dr. Mesleh recommends these three tips to avoid reflux this Thanksgiving.

  1. Eat several hours before going to bed. When we eat late and then lay down, all the food sitting in the stomach can come back up into the esophagus and cause GERD symptoms.
  2. Stay active and upright after eating. Moving around helps your stomach empty better.
  3. Eat in moderation.

If you experience severe symptoms, Dr. Mesleh recommends using over-the-counter antacids such as Rolaids or Tums to ease your discomfort.

“Using over-the-counter medication can help manage the symptoms temporarily but doesn’t treat the underlying cause of GERD,” he says.

“The underlying problem is the lower esophageal sphincter isn’t strong enough to keep acid from coming back up from the stomach. When your acid reflux is so bad that you can’t sleep or do everyday activities, you need to see your doctor. People with severe GERD symptoms while on medical therapy, or those who do not want to stay on medications for the rest of their life, may qualify for surgical treatments like LINX for GERD that might be better suited for their lifestyle.

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Marrison Worthington
Marrison Worthington

Marrison Worthington, health enews contributor, is a public affairs and marketing manager at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Illinois. She is a graduate of Illinois State University and has several years of global corporate communications experience under her belt. Marrison loves spending her free time traveling, reading organizational development blogs, trying new cooking recipes, and playing with her golden retriever, Ari.

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