(BPT) – The holiday season is full of fun, festivities and food — and unfortunately, occasional heartburn flareups, too. Overindulgence in over-the-top meals coupled with the stress that can accompany this busy time of year, can lead to uncomfortable heartburn. So, what exactly is heartburn, and how can you keep it at bay so you can enjoy your holidays?
Heartburn can feel like a burning sensation in your chest, but it actually has nothing to do with your heart. It happens when acid flows backward from your stomach into your esophagus, the muscular tube that connects your mouth to your stomach. But what causes it?
“While everyone may have unique heartburn triggers, some are pretty common,” says Dr. Samantha Nazareth*. “It helps if you can identify yours, so you can avoid having heartburn spoil your celebrations.”
Dr. Nazareth shares insights to get you through this holiday season including how to identify common heartburn triggers and tips for feeling more comfortable when confronted with painful heartburn symptoms.
Stress can be a factor in causing heartburn symptoms, and it may make the feeling of heartburn more noticeable.
To help lower your stress levels, Dr. Nazareth recommends trying stress management tactics that make you feel calmer and more relaxed, such as:
- Movement or exercise, including walking
- Reading or journaling
In addition, certain medications can also cause heartburn. If you are taking any prescription medications, review their list of side effects and talk to your healthcare provider about your symptoms.
It’s easy to overdo it during the holidays, when there are so many tasty temptations to choose from. However, eating too much can cause occasional heartburn, especially if you lie down to go to sleep before you’ve had a chance to digest.
Try these strategies to help you avoid discomfort from overeating:
- Serve food on smaller plates to help with portion control
- Stay hydrated in between meals to help you feel fuller, so you don’t overindulge
- Don’t lie down right after a big meal, or keep your upper body elevated
“It also helps to slow down when you eat,” adds Dr. Nazareth. “Signaling that digestion is about to start by chewing slowly gives enough time for your body to do its job.”
You can also relieve any discomfort after a large meal by taking PEPCID® Complete, the number-one doctor-recommended brand in acid relief. It starts to work in seconds, and controls acid all day or all night*, allowing you to enjoy your favorite holiday foods without the interruption of painful heartburn.
“PEPCID® works by lowering acid levels in the stomach. Sometimes we’re in a situation where we cannot control food ingredients (eating out, guests in someone’s home especially during the holidays) and heartburn can be an unexpected outcome,” says Dr. Nazareth.
Specific foods and drinks
If you experience heartburn, it can be helpful to keep a heartburn diary to figure out your specific triggers. Does your heartburn always occur at night, or after you enjoy certain foods or drinks? Common heartburn culprits include:
- Spicy, fatty, fried or greasy foods
- Caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea or sodas
- Alcohol, especially red wine
If you identify a pattern in your heartburn episodes, it may help you feel better if you can cut down on or eliminate those foods/ingredients or beverages that trigger your symptoms.
For those days that occasional heartburn just can’t be avoided, an over-the-counter acid reducer can help. PEPCID® Complete starts to work in seconds and controls acid all day or all night.**
**Based on 9-hour acid control studies during the day and 12-hour acid control studies during the night. Acid control does not imply symptom relief.