Cutting Back on Alcohol with Acid Reflux
Because alcohol is a common trigger of acid reflux, it can cause pain and discomfort in many people who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). However, alcohol is a frequent part of our social lives, and though it is a good idea for any GERD sufferer to minimize alcohol consumption, it may not be necessary to eliminate alcoholic beverages from your life entirely.
Each person experiences acid reflux and heartburn differently. If you find that you can safely consume the occasional alcoholic drink, or that certain types of alcohol do not cause you symptoms, it may be possible to drink in moderation.
Ultimately, the choice of whether or not to drink is up to you. For those who always experience acid reflux and heartburn after drinking, it may be best stop drinking entirely. For others, strategies that help with minimizing alcohol consumption may be more prudent.
To Eliminate Alcohol Entirely…
You may discover that alcohol in any volume causes acid reflux and heartburn, and if this is the case, it will be in your best interest to quit drinking altogether. To do this, it may help to:
- Find different ways to relax. For many people, having a drink is a way to unwind after a stressful day. However, it is far from the only way to relax. Instead of drinking, go for a walk, listen to one of your favorite songs, read a book or do something else that you find calming.
- Drink non-alcoholic beverages. Instead of indulging in alcohol, have a reflux-safe beverage like water, herbal tea or low-acid fruit juice. It is also possible to find non-alcoholic beer and wine, but remember that the carbonation and/or acidity of these drinks may cause GERD symptoms even without alcohol.
To Minimize Your Alcohol Consumption…
If you choose to drink, it’s important to do so cautiously. Always heed the advice of your doctor or reflux surgeon on whether or not it will be wise for you to consume alcohol, and remember that moderation is key for everyone.
To reduce your risk of acid reflux and still have the occasional alcoholic drink, it can help to:
- Dilute your drink. Mixing an alcoholic beverage with equal parts water will reduce its alcohol content and may help you avoid heartburn.
- Stick to one drink. Any time you decide to have a drink, try to stop at just one. One drink is equal to one 12-ounce beer (5 percent alcohol), one 5-ounce glass of wine (12 percent alcohol) or one 1.5-ounce shot of hard liquor (40 percent alcohol).
- Drink earlier. For those with GERD, it’s best to avoid eating or drinking anything within three to four hours of when you go to sleep. This includes alcohol. If you decide to drink, stop within four hours of bedtime to reduce the risk of nighttime reflux.
- Remember trigger drinks. Some drinks will especially increase your risk of acid reflux. For some people, beer may be safer than wine, or vice versa. You may also find that white wine is safer than red wine. Take note of how different beverages affect you and try to stick with drinks that your body tolerates best.
The question of whether or not to drink with GERD comes down to knowing your body and choosing accordingly. If alcoholic drinks cause you pain, they probably aren’t worth it.