Can You Get Heartburn from Drinking Alcohol?

Alcohol Can Trigger Alcohol; Learn How to Deal

Two pints of beer
Two pints of beer. Adermark Media/Moment/Getty Images

You come home from a stressful day at work, and have a glass of wine to help you unwind. But, not long after you're suffering from a bout of heartburn. Does drinking alcohol cause heartburn?

10 Things to Stop Doing if You Suffer from Heartburn

The Link Between Alcohol and Heartburn

Alcohol can trigger heartburn for many people. There are several ways in which alcohol works upon your body to aggravate or produce a bout of heartburn.

 These include:

  • Alcohol relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), allowing stomach contents to reflux back up into the esophagus
  • Alcohol increases the production of stomach acid
  • When the LES relaxes, it causes swallowing contractions to become erratic
  • Alcohol makes the esophagus more sensitive to stomach acid
  • When you drink, you may be less likely to make healthy food choices and more likely to eat foods that cause heartburn

Learn More About GERD (the Heartburn Disease)

Find Alternatives to Alcohol for Relaxation

So, maybe that glass of wine after work isn't such a good idea after all. If you suffer from heartburn and think alcohol is at least in part to blame, you may want to think of other ways to relax in the evenings. You could take a leisurely walk in the park. You could sit in a quiet room, listening to a recording of the surf at a beach. Think about what other strategies you've found helpful for relaxation in the past.

Brainstorm activities and experiences that you find relaxing and make a plan to incorporate these into your life.

Find other methods to de-stress has a double benefit for heartburn sufferers. Not only will you be reducing a behavior (drinking) that increases your chances of experiencing heartburn, but lowering your stress levels might also help.

Stress, at least anecdotally, may increase episodes of heartburn. 

Tips for Relaxation and Stress Relief

Alcohol and Heartburn Tips

But what if you still want to have an occasional drink? There are a few things you can do to minimize alcohol's effect on your body:

  • Dilute alcoholic beverages with water or club soda
  • Drink moderate amounts -- moderate drinking is defined as up to one drink a day for women; two for men. Keep in mind that a drink is a 5-ounce glass of wine; a 12 ounce beer; or a 1.5 ounce of hard liquor
  • 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. Also take note of how much alcohol you had, as the amount can also make a difference

How Much Drinking is Too Much?

Bottom Line

You may be able to enjoy alcoholic beverages if consumed in moderation. But if alcohol causes repeated heartburn, you may want to consider alternatives to alcohol.

If you experience persistent or severe pain, or if you think you might have an addiction to alcohol, don't hesitate to consult your doctor.

When to See a Doctor about Heartburn

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