(November 25, 2013)— It’s no surprise that a holiday centered around an abundance of food correlates with raising awareness about a chronic digestive disease that affects an estimated 30 million Americans. According to a study that followed over 30,000 people for 11 years, symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and heartburn nearly doubled in the last decade.
GERD occurs when stomach acid washes back up into the esophagus. “If GERD remains untreated, besides great discomfort and inflammation of the esophagus, patients can sometimes experience more serious complications and permanent damage,” according to Adrian Park, MD, chair of surgery at Anne Arundel Medical Center.
Here are six tips to keep GERD at bay during the holidays:
• Serve light appetizers. Fatty foods like chips, dips and cheeses are slow to empty from the stomach and more likely to aggravate symptoms.
• Stay active. Maintain your exercise routine during the holidays, as weight loss may help alleviate GERD symptoms.
• Limit alcohol and substitute water for soda. Whether wine at dinner or beer or soda during the game, alcohol and sugary soft drinks can increase reflux.
• Pass on deep-frying your turkey. Fried foods are known to exacerbate GERD symptoms.
• Use smaller plates. Eating large meals may trigger symptoms, so try smaller meals spread throughout the day.
• Stay awake! While the turkey might make you sleepy, fight the urge to take a nap. Lying down within three hours after eating may cause GERD symptoms to flare up.
GERD should only be diagnosed by a doctor and may require further testing. Visit askAAMC.org keyword: GERD to learn more about treatment options.