Alcohol and acid reflux: Rethink what you drink

Alcohol and acid reflux
From happy hour with friends to cheering on your favorite team to toasting the bride and groom at a wedding, alcohol and socializing go hand in hand for many people. If you have GERD, though, you might find that drinking alcohol can trigger a painful episode of reflux. This article offers tips for managing your GERD when a drink seems to bring on the symptoms.

Who doesn’t enjoy a frosty pint of beer or a flavorful glass of wine now and again? Many sufferers of GERD, that’s who. Sadly, alcohol and acid reflux simply do not mix for many people.

If you’re one of the millions of people with GERD, you’re probably all too aware that alcohol, especially red wine, often worsens your symptoms. But, why does one get acid reflux from alcohol? As with most triggers, there’s not much research about why alcohol seems to make symptoms worse. Some theorize that that alcohol interferes with the LES’s ability to function as a barrier, while others think it may have something to do with the acidity of alcoholic beverages. Whatever the reason, if you notice a certain drink makes your symptoms worse, you’re best off avoiding it.

Tips for Avoiding Alcohol and Acid Reflux

Okay, you get it. Alcohol and acid reflux unfortunately go hand-in-hand for many people. If you’re one of them, but you can’t bear the thought of nixing your nightcap of choice, here are some tips for enjoying a cocktail now and then while living with GERD.

1. Don’t overindulge.

Since alcohol consumption may trigger your GERD symptoms, limit how much and how often you drink. A good rule of thumb is to drink one glass of water for every alcoholic beverage you consume to help moderate your intake.

2. Get your drink on, earlier instead of later.

Avoiding alcohol a good 3-4 hours before going to bed may help keep your GERD symptoms at bay. Most physicians recommend avoiding any food or drink other than water in this window, so the next time you find yourself at happy hour, switch to water during that 3-4 hour time span before you hit the hay and see if that helps.

3. The bottom line is this: Know Your Body.

When you do partake in an alcoholic beverage, make a note of how it affects your GERD and go from there. You may find that you tolerate beer much better than wine or vice versa, so change your diet accordingly and limit the things that trigger your symptoms.

When you’re living with GERD, what and how you eat and drink can make or break how you feel. For some, the choice to skip the cocktails can be especially difficult, but the next time you’re tempted to indulge in a drink, ask yourself if it’s worth the pain.

Next steps

Read about other lifestyle changes that can help you control your symptoms: Adjusting your lifestyle to control your symptoms

Reviewed by: Dr. Dengler, RefluxMD Medical Director

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