Christmas and the New Year often means night after night of delicious banquets that include dishes we don’t normally see during the year. The Christmas ham, turkey or chicken with cranberry sauce, seafood platters with prawns, lobster, oysters and crayfish, barbecued steak, chicken breasts, drumsticks and wings, and to end the night with pavlova and Christmas pudding, and don’t forget, glasses of wine and champagne throughout the night. After a night of good food and good company your body gives you its first Christmas present full of love – heartburn.
Symptoms of Heartburn
Normally, acid is prevented from flowing into the oesophagus by a valve (like a door). When this valve does not function properly, stomach acid in the stomach flows back up the oesophagus, causing the burning feeling associated with heartburn and reflux. Other symptoms include:
Causes of Heartburn
There are several causes of heartburn but during the celebratory months, alcohol, caffeine, large meals, tight clothing around the waist and some times of food including chocolate and fatty food are the most likely culprits.
6 Tips to prevent Heartburn this Christmas
Prevention is always preferred so here are some tips to remember this Christmas.
Relieving Heartburn with medication
Even with our best intentions, we can still sometimes get heartburn. There are medications available in the pharmacy that can help relieve these symptoms and can be grouped into 2 generalised groups – medicines that neutralise the acid and medicines that reduce the production of acid.
Medicines that neutralise acid, known as antacids, provide immediate quick relief from symptoms. Examples include Mylanta and Rennie. Antacids can also be combined with an alginates which form a coating on the top of the stomach preventing the acid from flowing into the oesophagus. Examples include Gaviscon. This option is great if immediate relief is required. Medicines that reduce the production of acid include Somac and Zantac. This option is great if you know you will be getting heartburn and want to prevent it beforehand. If unsure about which medication suits you, always speak to your doctor or pharmacist first.
When to see the doctor
If unsure about your symptoms or which treatment suits you best, always speak to your doctor or pharmacist. Also see your doctor if you continue to have symptoms after 2 weeks of using a treatment, if it is the first time you have had these symptoms and are over 50 or under 18 years, if your symptoms get worse, or if symptoms are constant or keep returning even after treatment.
Enjoy your Christmas and New Year meals but keep everything in moderation to help minimise the likelihood of getting heartburn. If inevitably you do get heartburn and reflux that night or the next day, medicines can help treat the symptoms. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist if unsure about which medication suits you.
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