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Tips to avoid heartburn


Thanksgiving week is also GERD Awareness Week. The heartburn caused by reflux disease (commonly referred to as GERD) can make those who indulge in a big holiday feast less than thankful.

With some help from the national nonprofit advocacy organization, ECAN (Esophageal Cancer Action Network), people can avoid the discomfort of heartburn. Dr. Bruce Greenwald of the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center, ECAN board chairman, advises the following:

  • Schedule your Thanksgiving meal in the afternoon rather than in the evening.
  • Don’t lie down right after eating — take a walk instead.
  • Avoid overeating; start out with smaller servings and you might not want seconds.
  • If you are hosting a feast, do your guests a favor by using smaller plates. It will make every portion seem larger and keep overeating to a minimum.
  • Drink in moderation. Alcohol worsens GERD symptoms.
  • Eat dessert an hour or two after the meal (but not too close to bedtime).

“Overeating or lying down after a meal make it more likely that acid and stomach contents will reflux into the esophagus, causing heartburn,” Greenwald added. “Following these simple suggestions can help make this a heartburn-free holiday!”

Greenwald and his colleagues at ECAN also advise that if a person suffers with heartburn or other symptoms of GERD on a regular basis, making heartburn symptoms go away shouldn’t be the end of their efforts to address the situation. Reflux disease can lead to a pre-cancerous condition known as Barrett’s esophagus which, if left untreated, can become esophageal cancer.

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