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December 11, 2015

How to prevent and treat heartburn

Overeating is quite common during the holidays, and this can lead to heartburn. Here are a few tips on preventing and treating this ailment.

Acid reflux and heartburn generally occur after a large meal, usually one that was high in fat, washed down with plenty of alcohol or eaten late in the evening. In other words, the typical holiday meal! 

To avoid the problem, let moderation be your guide. Focus on eating a healthy, balanced diet low in fat, reducing your intake of alcohol, cutting back on cigarettes and avoiding trigger foods and beverages, such as chocolate, caffeine and soft drinks.

What exactly is ailing you?

Even after following this advice, you may still develop digestive discomfort. If this is the case, you may have a case of sour stomach or gastroesophageal reflux (acid reflux).
A sour stomach is caused by an overproduction of gastric acid. As for acid reflux, it results from the backwards flow of gastric acid into the esophagus due to a poorly functioning esophageal sphincter (the valve that separates the stomach from the esophagus).

Finding relief

The discomfort caused by either of these conditions can be quite a nuisance. That’s when an antacid is recommended. But if you are pregnant or on medications, talk to your pharmacist before choosing a product. “Your pharmacist can recommend a treatment that takes into account your condition, symptoms and situation,” explains pharmacist Diane Lamarre, President of the Ordre des pharmaciens du Québec.

Make sure you see a doctor if you experience any of the following:

  • Black stool (risk of ulcer or intestinal bleeding)
  • Difficulty swallowing solid food
  • Severe, persistent vomiting
  • Severe abdominal or chest pain
  • Heartburn not responding to over-the-counter medications
  • Persistent symptoms after seven days of self-administered treatment


To learn more:

Brûlures d’estomac, antiacides, Protégez-Vous, December 2012 (In French only)
10 conseils pour bien digérer vos Fêtes, Protégez-Vous, December 2011 (In French only)

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