What Is The Link Between Alcohol And Heartburn?

When you suffer from frequent heartburn, chances are, your doctor advised you against having alcohol. If you didn’t ask, he didn’t tell you exactly why. And that probably leaves you wondering. Now after a long and hectic day at office, most of us like to come home and sit down with a chilled beer or enjoy a glass or two of wine with dinner. It helps us to unwind and release the tension.

Photo Credit: Sam Ilić via Compfightcc
Photo Credit: Sam Ilić via Compfightcc

But the fact is that alcohol and heartburn can actually go hand in hand for a GERD sufferer. Alcohol can worsen the condition and trigger heartburn.

Why does alcohol cause heartburn?

If you are wondering exactly why, there are actually documented reasons for it. And here they are:

  • Alcohol does help you relax, but in addition it also helps your LES (Lower Esophageal Sphincter) to relax as well. And that means your stomach contents can reflux back into the esophagus fairly easily.
  • Also, alcohol actually increases the amount of acid your stomach produces – and this acid when it refluxes, erodes the esophagus wall.
  • And that isn’t all – the alcohol, at the same time, makes your esophagus more susceptible to acid damage.
Photo Credit: emurray via Compfightcc
Photo Credit: emurray via Compfightcc
  • And when in the stomach, alcohol can actually contribute to the development of peptic ulcers – and this will worsen GERD and its symptoms.

And that, in a nutshell, is why those suffering from Heartburn or GERD are usually told to steer clear of alcohol.

But if you find that prescription a little difficult to follow at all times, we thought we’ll give you…

A few tips to ‘dilute’ alcohol’s heartburn causing qualities—

It is always advisable that you just abstain from having alcohol, but there will always be the occasional event where you can’t do that. And for then here are a few tips to follow:

  • Drink in moderation: 1 or 2 drinks are fine, but not more. In case of beer you can go up to 2 or 3 and in case of wine, never more than 12 to 16 ounces a day.
Photo Credit: jenny downing via Compfightcc
Photo Credit: jenny downing via Compfightcc
  • Choose white wine over red – it is somewhat more heartburn-friendly.
  • Find out which spirits have a more serious effect and avoid those.
  • When having a drink – dilute it with water to lessen its effects. Never have alcohol neat.
  • And of course, if there are non-alcoholic beverages and drinks available, go for those!

The bottom line is that alcohol and heartburn actually have a very close link – one that you cannot avoid even if you want to. And anyone who’s had a particularly bad episode of heartburn following a few drinks will agree that prevention and abstention is better than cure and suffering. So make the right choice and keep heartburn and GERD at bay!