Question: Alcohol causes me heartburn. Why?
You come home from a stressful day at work, and have a glass of wine to help you unwind. Unfortunately, a few minutes later you are suffering from a bout of heartburn. Why?
Alcohol can have several unpleasant affects on heartburn sufferers. These include:
- Alcohol increases the production of stomach acid
- Alcohol relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), allowing stomach contents to reflux back up into the esophagus
- When the LES relaxes, it causes swallowing contractions to become erratic
- Alcohol makes the esophagus more sensitive to stomach acid
But what if you still want to have an occasional drink? There are a few things you can do to minimize alcohol's affect on your body:
- Dilute alcoholic beverages with water or club soda
- Drink moderate amounts -- 1 to 2 mixed drinks, 12 to 16 ounces of wine, or 2 to 3 beers
- When having wine, drink white wine instead of red
- Avoid lying down after drinking -- sitting up will minimize reflux
- Choose non-alcoholic beer or wine
- Keep track of which alcoholic drinks aggravate your heartburn, and avoid them as much as possible
Carol Ann Rinzler, Ken DeVault, MD. Heartburn & Reflux for Dummies. Wiley Publishing, Inc, 2004
Anil Minocha, M.D., Christine Adamec. How To Stop Heartburn - Simple Ways to Heal Heartburn and Acid Reflux. John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 2001.