Nutrition Articles

Can You Drink Alcohol with Heartburn?

Don't Get Burned by Making the Wrong Drink Choices

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  • Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) (Prilosec, Prevacid, AcipHex) are a classification of medications commonly used to treat heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and gastric ulcers. PPI medications do not have any specific warnings related to effectiveness or interactions with alcohol, though keep in mind that alcohol is not generally recommended for people with chronic heartburn. However, a 2008 study found moderate alcohol consumption did not worsen gastroesophageal reflux when a PPI was taken. Be sure to talk with your medical provider or pharmacist if you are considering consuming alcohol while taking a PPI.
     
  • H2 blockers (Zantac, Pepcid, Axid, Tagamet) have been found to increase blood alcohol levels up to 38 percent when taken with alcohol. If you are taking an H2 blocker and consume alcohol on occasion, limiting your alcohol volume and frequency is advised. You can also talk with your medical provider to see if a medication change is possible.

How do I avoid heartburn in social situations involving alcohol?
Sometimes, the heartburn that accompanies alcohol use is actually a result of multiple factors. Consuming alcohol lowers our inhibitions while also stimulating our appetites. This can lead to food choices that exacerbate heartburn. It can be hard to limit or avoid those favorite foods, especially when many of the foods in social situations are heartburn triggers. The greasy fried appetizers and spicy foods are much harder to limit or avoid in the mix of alcohol and friends. Alcohol also causes us to focus less on monitoring our portion sizes, which can lead to overeating.

The only way you can really prevent an alcohol-related heartburn flare is to avoid drinking altogether. However, you may be able to enjoy alcohol in moderation while living with heartburn by following a few simple tips:
  • Wear looser-fitting clothing instead of belts or form-fitting clothes. Tighter clothing can bind and increase reflux and related discomfort.
     
  • Dilute your white wine with water or club soda to lower the alcohol content in your drink. Plus, a wine spritzer made with three ounces of wine only has 60 calories!
     
  • Drink a large glass of water immediately after an alcoholic drink. This will help fill you up, making it easier to skip the heartburn trigger foods, and will dilute the stomach acid.
     
  • Stand up and walk around while enjoying your drink instead of sitting and socializing.
     
  • Skip acid-rich cocktails containing oranges, lemons or cranberries in favor of beer or white wine. If a cocktail is all that will hit the spot, opt for lower-acid fruit options like melon, mango, strawberries, and pears.
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About The Author

Tanya Jolliffe Tanya Jolliffe
Tanya earned a bachelor's degree in dietetics and nutrition and has more than 20 years of experience in nutrition counseling and education. She is a member of the American Association of Diabetes Educators. See all of Tanya's articles.

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