About Alcohol & Acid Reflux

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Acid reflux is a condition where the sphincter muscle between your stomach and esophagus does not work properly. As a result, the contents of your stomach, which are very acidic, come back up into your esophagus. Symptoms include heartburn, voice problems, the need to repeatedly clear your throat and often a chronic cough. It can result in inflammation and ulcers and in some cases can develop into more serious conditions such as Barrett's esophagus, esophageal stricture and esophageal cancer.Certain foods and beverages can increase your risk of acid reflux such as tomatoes, chocolates, caffeine and alcohol.

About Alcohol & Acid Reflux
About Alcohol & Acid Reflux (Image: Dynamic Graphics/Creatas/Getty Images)

Esophageal Sphincter

According to the National Heartburn Alliance, drinking alcohol can cause your lower esophageal sphincter to relax, allowing the acid to come back up into your esophagus. It can also affect contraction of the esophageal muscles that allows you to swallow. Alcohol can cause an inconsistent rhythm of the contractions, which allows the acid to flow back into your esophagus.

Man drinking a beer
Man drinking a beer (Image: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Excess Acid

Consuming beer and wine may result in an increased production of acid in your stomach. It may also lower the sensitivity of your esophagus to acid, and that results in more inflammation. A study summarized in an article in the June 1997 Digestive Diseases and Sciences journal showed that the participants who drank red wine had increased acid levels. They were also exposed to the acid longer than normal, and their symptoms were worse than usual.

Waitress serving wine and beer
Waitress serving wine and beer (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Alcohol With Meals

Since alcohol has an adverse affect on acid reflux, eating a heavy meal can add to your symptoms. By limiting your alcohol consumption with meals, your symptoms may be less severe. The National Heartburn Alliance suggests having no more than one or two mixed drinks, two or three beers or 12 to 16 ounces of wine with your meal.

Woman drinking alcohol with meal
Woman drinking alcohol with meal (Image: Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images)

Complications

More serious conditions can develop as a result of acid reflux. Dr. Anish Sheth is a gastroenterologist and professor of medicine at Yale University. He informed Fox News that although acid reflux will not kill you, it can cause other problems if left untreated. Barrett's esophagus is a condition where the cells of the esophagus are altered and in some cases can become precancerous or cancerous. Esophageal stricture is a condition where your esophagus becomes narrowed due to long-term irritation. Esophageal cancer can be treated with surgery, with a positive prognosis if it is diagnosed early enough.

Surgeons
Surgeons (Image: NA/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Tips

If you are having reflux problems because of alcohol consumption, there are some things you can do to help. You should record your episodes of heartburn and identify the alcoholic beverage that caused them. Drinking white wine instead of red may be easier on your system. Instead of an alcoholic drink at the end of the day, try walking, stretching, meditation or deep breathing to unwind.

Man stretching
Man stretching (Image: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Warnings

If you experience severe abdominal or chest pain, vomiting, dark or bloody stool, loss of appetite, weight loss, swallowing difficulties or breathing difficulties, you should see your physician as soon as possible. These may be signs of a serious condition.

Man with stomach pain
Man with stomach pain (Image: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

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