GERD/Tequila/Hiccups, Any scientific knowledge of the connection?
October 16, 2012 3:51 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone have knowledge of the connection between acid reflux (GERD), belching, hiccups and heavy alcohol consumption? I would like scientific/medical theories as to what is happening and why. (further explanation included) (Dr appointment made)

I never had symptoms of GERD until last year. The symptom I have experienced (sadly about 7 times) is a persistent hiccup/belch loop for 24 to 48 after heavy drinking (Patron). I was/am basically symptom free except when I drink.
Certain details defy what I know of the ailment. First of all, I have no chest pain, shortness of breath, burning of throat nor do I ever taste acid. The loop generally starts the next day after the "party". I get hiccups usually by the following afternoon and they are persistent. The only way I can get rid of them is to drink MASSIVE amounts of freezing cold water while holding my breath and swallowing air. Don't know why this works, but it is the only thing that does. That starts the loop. I lay down, because when I feel acid drip (from being upright), I belch than the hiccups return. Laying down I am usually OK until I have to get up to urinate all that water I drank. I get up, go to the bathroom, feel the drip, belch than the hiccups are back. I drink more water and..... you get the drill. The swallowing of air also causes "the dreaded hot belch" while lying down. Antacids (PPI, Magnesium etc.) help quite a bit but are unreliable and sometimes just reduce the severity. It is driving me crazy because the only real symptom is the DARN HICCUPS. Do I REALLY have to give up my beloved Tequila parties over hiccups.
If alcohol is causing GERD/hiccups bouts, do you risk permanent GERD?

Have any of you experienced any of this?

As I said; I HAVE A DOCTORS APPOINTMENT and plan to stop drinking (if i have to ;-) So please just answer if you have scientific knowledge/theories or experience with these symptoms.
posted by Studiogeek to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I sounds like what you have is a hangover. Next time, try drinking less. If you know how much you drank last time, halve that amount and see if that helps. If not, halve the amount again. Straight alcohol is very hard on the stomach, and having hiccups and stomach issues the next day is really common. So common, in fact, that I suspect people are going to have a hard time taking your question seriously. Drinking a lot of water helps because drinking too much causes you to become dehydrated. Take it easy with the patron (yea, it's good stuff, which is why it's easy to drink way too much of it) and make sure you have a good solid meal in you before you start.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 4:14 PM on October 16, 2012

Response by poster: 5_13,
It is clearly not a hangover. It should be evident that i know what they are by now. ;-)
posted by Studiogeek at 4:33 PM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yes, there is a connection and if your physician says " try not drinking for a month/two weeks/etc and let's see if it goes away" I will be surprised. There are X to the nth hits on alcohol+indigestion+reflux. I believe alcohol relaxes the muscles that prevent stomach acid from entering the esophagus--therefore reflux. yes, chronic alcohol indigestion increases the possibility of Barrett's esophagus. I have a strong hunch you know this
posted by rmhsinc at 4:50 PM on October 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have this, too. Some booze is less irritating such as creamy drinks. Actually scotch and water is not too bad. My older brother once warned me that if it burns going down - well, that's bad.

Tips: Sit up straight, feet on the floor, sleep on your left side with a wedge pillow, don't lie down for several hours after eating/drinking and munch on ginger chews/crystals. The latter is very good for indigestion, reflux caused by anything, bloating, etc.
posted by Tullyogallaghan at 5:08 PM on October 16, 2012

My best friend with GERD does not drink in the evening or she'll have problems during the night. It's my understanding that this is pretty common. My friend is a pretty light drinker and unless we do early happy hour, she doesn't partake.
posted by shoesietart at 5:13 PM on October 16, 2012

You might try a different liquor. My husband and I are both less refluxy after drinking if we drink vodka-tonics, as opposed to, say, tequila and shots, which are completely off the table for us. But as rmhsinc points out, there's a pretty basic connection between alcohol and reflux due to its muscle-relaxing properties.
posted by limeonaire at 5:13 PM on October 16, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you all for the replies.
PS: Remember, I largely have none of the general reflux symptoms and gastric discomfort to contend with. I just have those darned hiccups. I wonder what is triggering those and how to reduce/control them.
posted by Studiogeek at 5:37 PM on October 16, 2012

Ask the doc about a hiatial hernia. It can cause what you are describing.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 5:47 PM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I will,
Thanks Mr. Yuck.
posted by Studiogeek at 5:58 PM on October 16, 2012

Alcohol is dehydrating. I used to get acid reflux when I was very dehydrated. Cold water constricts the vessels in the lungs (it is a common treatment for lung bleeds in the cf community -- get the lungs cold enough, it sometimes stops a small bleed). High acidity in the gut is known to promote lung inflammation. Perhaps not exactly the same thing, but it sounds to me like you have possibly (chemically) irritated the lungs in a way which is helped by constricting the vessels.

Not scientific. Just what I know from having a lung condition and talking to others with the same.

Best of luck.
posted by Michele in California at 6:20 PM on October 16, 2012

You don't necessarily have to have classic reflux symptoms to have GERD, esp. if it's in early stages.. but 2nding Michele, alcohol is dehydrating- it will make things worse, and as said above Barret's esophagus can be a tricky player here.... you may not feel anything's wrong, but when alcohol goes down the guzzle and inflames and irritates what is being inflamed and irritated already, well....
Not to be alarmist, but Barrett's esophagus is a precancerous condition. Just sayin'.
posted by drhydro at 8:08 PM on October 16, 2012

Booze gives you gutrot. I thought this was such common knowledge that no scientific tests would ever need to be done. I am not being sarcastic. I drank enough to give myself permanent, non-alcohol-dependant GERD.

In my experience, the best way to cope is drinking milk with activated charcol tablets and staying as upright as possible. And also not drinking.

If eating soothes your symptoms temporarily, yes, a hernia is a possibility.

An ulcer is also a possibility.
posted by windykites at 8:23 PM on October 16, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you all so far.
Eating makes it worse generally. More belching, more hiccups. I am already trying to adjust to the idea of life without periodic inebriation. It has been fun...
posted by Studiogeek at 8:27 AM on October 17, 2012

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