Tips For Managing Alcohol Consumption with Acid Reflux & Heartburn

Many of us enjoy an alcoholic beverage from time to time. Whether it’s to accompany a meal out with friends or celebrate a family occasion, many of us encounter a drink or two. But what if you suffer from heartburn?

Woman suffering from acid reflux



Does alcohol cause acid reflux and heart burn?

In short, the answer is yes, it can.1


In this blog we’ll look at the link between alcohol, acid reflux and heartburn and offer insights which will help you to make an informed choice on whether you still want to enjoy a drink on social occasions. 


What is acid reflux and heartburn?

Lots of people get heartburn every now and again and often it’s not obvious what’s caused it.2


For those who suffer on a more regular basis, it can be linked to certain foods and drinks and lifestyle factors.2


Heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux – when stomach acid travels up towards the throat.2


It feels like a burning sensation in the middle of the chest.2


Acid reflux can leave an unpleasant sour taste in the mouth and sufferers can also experience recurring hiccups or a cough, bad breath, a hoarse voice or feeling bloated or sick.2


These symptoms are often worse after eating or you may find they happen when bending over or lying down.2


What can cause heartburn and acid reflux?


There are a number of foods and drinks associated with heartburn and acid reflux including alcohol, coffee and food that is rich, spicy or high in fat.2

Lifestyle factors can also play a part such as smoking, being overweight, stress and anxiety.2

It can also be linked to an increase in hormones such as progesterone and oestrogen and some medicines can cause or make heartburn and acid reflux worse including anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen.2

woman holding chest with heartburn

How is alcohol linked to heartburn and acid reflux?


The muscular valve (lower oesophageal sphincter) which connects the tube (the oesophagus) from the mouth to the stomach is there to ensure food and drink can pass through but stomach contents don’t leak out and go upwards.3

But when this one-way system fails and sufficient quantities of stomach acid pass into the oesophagus, acid reflux and heartburn can strike.3

Alcohol can relax the muscular valve causing acid to leak through.3

According to the digestive system charity Guts UK, alcohol alters the amount of acid the stomach produces and can affect the stomach lining causing inflammation.1

Are some drinks more likely to cause heartburn and acid reflux?


It’s something that’s bound to get asked but unfortunately, it’s not really a question of ‘what is the best alcoholic drink for acid reflux and heartburn’.

There’s a suggestion you should avoid drinks known to be higher in acidity such as ciders, white wine and cocktails containing citrus fruits, mint, chocolate, coffee and tomato.4

A scientific study carried out in 1993 showed beer and wine to be a strong stimulant of stomach acid production, particularly beer.5

But if you think alcohol is triggering your acid reflux and heartburn you should try to avoid it as much as possible. If you choose to have a drink on a social or special occasion, moderation is key to avoiding heartburn.2


Tips on how to enjoy that social occasion if you suffer from heartburn


  • If you do decide to have a drink or two, alternate with water or soft drinks.6


  • Eat a small meal or snack before you drink to help slow the absorption of alcohol.6


  • Alcohol isn’t the only option! There are plenty of alcohol-free alternatives and delicious mocktails to discover.


  • Avoid eating larger, rich meals. Enjoy smaller portions or snacks throughout the occasion instead.2


  • Steer clear of your known food and drink triggers if you can.2


  • If you’re enjoying an evening out don’t eat within three or four hours of going to bed.2


  • Wear something comfortable and loose fitting around the waist.2

Cutting down on alcohol


While it’s tempting to have a drink when everyone else around you is raising a glass, cutting down won’t just lower your risk of heartburn and acid reflux, it has so many health and wellbeing benefits too.7

You’re likely to sleep better, have more energy and be in a better mood – alcohol can make stress and anxiety worse.7

Alcohol irritates the gut so lowering your intake or quitting completely means you’re less likely to suffer from stomach pain, ulcers and longer-term health conditions such as heart disease and stroke.7

And think of the waistline – alcohol contains seven calories per gram!7

pharmacist consulting a customer on heartburn and acid reflux

When to see a pharmacist or GP about heartburn and acid reflux


Lifestyle changes can help to prevent or relieve your acid reflux and heartburn symptoms but if you need further advice speak to your pharmacist.2

If lifestyle changes and pharmacy medicines such as antacids aren’t helping and you have heartburn for three weeks or more, make an appointment with your GP.2

A GP can provide stronger treatments such as omeprazole which reduces the amount of acid your stomach makes.2

Learn more about Pyrocalm Control


Pyrocalm Control 20mg Gastro-Resistant Tablets (omeprazole) are used in adults for the short-term treatment of reflux symptoms (e.g. heartburn, acid regurgitation, acid reflux). 

Find out more about Pyrocalm Control

Pyrocalm Control: Over the counter omeprazole

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Pyrocalm Control® 20mg Gastro-Resistant Tablets. For the short-term treatment of reflux symptoms in adults.
Contains 20 mg Omeprazole. Always read the label. Medicines can affect the unborn baby.
Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medicine in pregnancy.