How to tame the "Feast Beast" of heartburn

REDLANDS, Calif.-- This Thanksgiving, millions will be facedwith a feast of meats, an assortment of beverages, a plethora of sweet and salty sides-- and what do you have -- a recipe for heartburn. In an effort to ease the pain for heartburn sufferers on Thanksgiving Day, Dr. Mark Gabriel, gastroenterologist at Redlands Community Hospital, offers important tips to help prevent the big burn.

“All of the ingredients in a Thanksgiving dinner may exacerbate heartburn or stomach problems,” said Dr. Gabriel. “Heartburn is one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders in the world with more than 25 million Americans suffering from the condition on a daily basis.”

According to the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA), more than 60 million people in the United States suffer from heartburn. About 7% of people suffer from it daily and twice as many have it weekly. Heartburn, the most common symptom of acid reflux, is a burning discomfort in the chest or throat that results when harsh stomach acid comes into contact with and irritates the delicate lining of the esophagus.

According to Dr. Gabriel, those who experience frequent heartburn over an extended period of time may be exposing their esophagus to permanent damage, and even possibly, but rarely esophageal cancer if not treated early by their physician.

Mild symptoms can be treated by taking over-the-counter medications including Pepcid AC®, Tagamet HB® and Zantac 75® as well as making additional changes to

your diet and lifestyle. If symptoms continue to persist after four weeks, schedule an appointment with your doctor for further diagnosis and treatment. For those who may overindulge on Thanksgiving, Dr. Gabriel recommends not over doing it on the rich foods and alcohol and avoid laying down and napping after the big meal. “Lying down can send acids from your stomach to your esophagus, causing the burning pain in heartburn. Better to take a short walk or spend some time doing the dishes so that you can allow your food to better digest.”

Dr. Gabriel adds, “above all, be cautious about heartburn. Heartburn and acid reflux are sometimes mistaken for heart problems. Conversely, serious heart problems are often brushed off as simply heartburn.”

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