Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and for many of us, that means the start of holiday heartburn. Whether you tend to nibble all day or risk one big meal, choosing Heartburn-friendly foods and eating small meals may help ease discomfort.
You may have heartburn or indigestion if you frequently feel a burning sensation in your chest after eating certain meals or drinking beverages such as coffee or soda. In some cases, this could be caused by GERD, a more severe condition.
Is It GERD?
From 20-26 November 2022, it's the 23rd Annual GERD Awareness Week. According to the NIH, almost 20% of people in the U.S suffer from GERD, making it a prevalent disorder. Around Thanksgiving every year, IFFGD encourages those experiencing GERD symptoms to speak with their doctor.
In 1999, the IFFGD chose GERD Awareness Week to teach people more about gastrointestinal disorders. Many people think heartburn and GERD are interchangeable words, but there is so much more to GERD than just heartburn!
For people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), acids and other stomach contents often invade the esophagus and irritate its sensitive lining. Other symptoms include a sour taste in the mouth and a feeling like a lump in the throat.
Heartburn or GERD, What's The Difference?
The heartburn associated with acid reflux is a mild burning sensation in the chest, often after eating or lying down. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic form of acid reflux, in which stomach acids routinely back-flow and cause damage to the esophagus over time.
Symptoms of GERD
The most common signs and symptoms of GERD include:
- Having a burning feeling in your chest (heartburn), especially after eating, which might get worse at night
- Pain in your chest area
- Swallowing difficulty
- The sensation of a clogged throat or feeling like you need to clear your throat.
Nighttime acid reflux disturbs your sleep and can exacerbate chronic cough and asthma symptoms. Consequently, it is recommended that you avoid eating late at night. The following conditions increase your risk of developing GERD:
- Being Overweight (Obesity)
- Hiatal hernia
- Connective tissue disorders, for example, scleroderma.
A doctor usually diagnoses GERD based on the symptoms a patient presents. Managing GERD often includes changing some lifestyle habits, and medications available over the counter may help alleviate symptoms.
The American College of Gastroenterology reports that more than 60 million Americans have acid reflux at least once a month, with 15 million experiencing it daily.
What to Do About GERD During Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is often associated with over-consuming high-fat foods, desserts, gravies, carbonated drinks, and alcohol. For those that suffer from GERD, avoiding these common trigger foods is key to ensuring the enjoyment of holiday celebrations.
Four tips for managing GERD and heartburn:
- During the holidays, it's easy to get caught up in food and overeat. If you're susceptible to heartburn, eating smaller meals more frequently can help prevent it from ruining your holiday feast.
- Eating late at night and lying down immediately after can cause indigestion. It takes time for food to be digested in the stomach, so lying down quickly after eating a large meal often causes regurgitation and heartburn because gravity pulls the stomach contents downward. To prevent these symptoms, sit upright for two or three hours post-meal instead of reclining.
- Avoid trigger foods if you want to prevent heartburn. Many suffering from heartburn know which foods trigger their symptoms. Typically, these include chocolate, greasy dishes, and caffeine since they relax the lower esophagus sphincter muscle that otherwise would keep food down. Heartburn occurs when stomach contents come back up when this muscle is too relaxed. Other acidic culprits, including citrus fruits or carbonated beverages, are frequently triggering agents of heartburn flare-ups.
- The holiday season is often busy, making it easy to forget to take regular medications. If you find that your symptoms are worsening or have any concerns, be sure to speak with your doctor immediately.
GERD can put a damper on your Thanksgiving feast, but these tips will help you enjoy the holiday. The most important philosophy to remember is to eat moderate portions.
GI Associates & Endoscopy Center can help get you the proper diagnosis and treatment you need for gut health, whether it's Heartburn or GERD. Don’t suffer through the holidays. Please don't hesitate to talk to our team and schedule an appointment today.