Can one night of drinking cause GERD? (My Story)

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Regular Member

Date Joined Jan 2012
Total Posts : 87
   Posted 1/31/2012 1:40 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi All,

Hoping to get some feedback here on people's thoughts about what might have caused my GERD and if I will ever feel better. Up until two months ago, I'd never had heartburn in my life (33, fit, male). In fact, I've always considered myself to be very healthy, active (weight lifter), and have a reasonably good diet of mostly home cooked food. I also very rarely drink alcohol (once every 3 to 6 months) and even then, only occasionally to excess.

However, in early December, my fiance and I went to a holiday party and I drank too much vodka on the rocks and consumed little else. At the end of the night, I ended up throwing up and then crashing into bed. The next morning I was a bit dehydrated and hungover, but l generally felt normal. The rest of the following week I felt completely fine, exercised normally, ate normally (italian, mexican, etc.) and generally just felt the same. Then, exactly a week after the party, we had Chili for dinner. And at 3am that night, I was stricken with the worst heartburn I've ever even heard of in my life. It literally felt like my chest was going to explode.

I ate a bunch of tums we had in the house and pretty much stayed up the rest of the night. After that initial attack my heartburn never fully went away, but I was able to resume my normal routine the following week and continue to eat a fairly normal diet, etc. I didn't feel stricken by GERD yet. Then the following Friday, I again had a small amount of the leftover chili (big mistake!) and again had a massive heartburn attack. I haven't been the same since.

At this point, I've been on steadily increasing PPI's (+H2's) for the past two months and my symptoms have only seemed to get progressively worse. Because my symptoms came on so quickly, my doctor suggested I get an EGD, which they did a couple weeks back. It showed signs of both acid reflux (inflamed distal esophagus), and gastritis / areas of inflammation in my stomach. I was originally on 40mg of omeprazole and an H2 before bed, but they have now upped my dose to 80mg daily! This seems like a lot of medicine (I take pills 3x / day) and I really don't like being so dependent on it. I've also made every possible lifestyle change (elevated bed, strict GERD diet, no eating several hours before bed, etc.) with very limited benefits. In fact, I still wake up off and on throughout the night dealing with various stomach and esophagus issues. And then I walk around all day because I don't get enough rest.

I'm really reeling and frightened by the effects of this disease. I burp constantly now, I always have an aching pain in my chest along with heartburn after every meal. I feel like I can't even exercise any more as going up the stairs gives me acid reflux and makes me feel short of breath. I can't imagine what going for a run or bike ride would do to me. I also can't sit down much any more after I eat, and usually stand for a couple hours after each meal at a standing desk. I feel like all the things I've enjoyed in life have been taken from me all at once.

So I guess, I'm wondering, how did things get so bad, so quickly? I don't understand how I went from a perfectly healthy person, to a GERD monster overnight? Is there any reason to be hopeful?

My doctor believes there's reason to be hopeful that after my inflammation heals in 3 to 6 months that I will feel much more normal. However, at this stage, and with my limited improvement after 2 months of TONS of meds, I'm not feeling so optimistic. Should I be? Is there a chance I will regain some of my old abilities and not have acid reflux hindering me at every step? I really hope so.

The other thing that's been plaguing me is wondering if it's all my fault and big time feelings of guilt. Did one night of drinking too much cause this? Did I overdo it one night and cause myself a lifetime of pain and suffering with GERD? Is that possible? If so, that is awful. I'll never drink alcohol again.

I know in the long run it doesn't matter that much - I have GERD now and have to deal with it. But, I would really like to know why I have it, and if it was the result of my behavior or just plain dumb luck / bad genetics / a complex web of things I've done in my life (e.g. weight lifting, occasional overeating, genetic susceptibilities, etc.). I know that my father (who's passed away) suffered from heartburn from his late 30's on, but it was NEVER this bad, so I don't know where I went so wrong.

I feel like I've lost my youth, but in some ways, gained more humanity. I now have the deepest empathy for anyone who's ever suffered from this or any other digestive disease in their lives. Consuming food and drink are so much a part of being a human and to have that so closely associated with pain and suffering is a horrible thing.

Any thoughts appreciated.


Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2011
Total Posts : 417
   Posted 1/31/2012 2:00 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Lucas --

Sorry to hear of your difficulties, and the frustration that goes along with it. You've gone a long way in documenting the progression of your symptoms, and treatments, plus the lifestyle changes. You're doing good! :)

Short answer to your question: "Can one night of drinking cause GERD?" The answer is no. It's likely that you do have GERD, although I didn't read anywhere in your post where you've been officially diagnosed with it. Do you know what the proof was of the vodka you drank? If it was in the 150-160 range, it's very likely that you experienced a chemical burn down your esophagus, which then allowed reflux to become more noticeable. (I was given a shot of 160 vodka as a "birthday present" in college, 30 years ago, and it burned all the way down. Was ill for a couple of days.)

Chili = tomato sauce + spices = bad combination. I do treat myself to homemade chili once every few months, but I moderate it with crackers and ketchup...sounds funky, I know, but something about the vinegar in the ketchup helps moderate the bad choice... Usually, day in day out, I eat a very bland diet.

Like you, I've always been in great shape, exercising, weight lifting, etc. I guarantee you that everyone on this message board searches their memories for reasons why they caused this awful condition. It's usually a futile search, and probably most come down with GERD as a result of maturity or genetic predispositions. I don't disagree with you about the life-altering aspects. My advice is to free your brain from this train of thought, and try to focus on things that make you happy, while reserving a bit to help you over the rough spots as you manage it.

My recommendation is to speak to your doctor about switching you to another PPI away from the omeprazole. There are several to choose from, that will probably work better at a lower dose.

Hope this helps. Best wishes!


Elite Member

Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 1/31/2012 2:58 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello and welcome to HealingWell.  You posted, " Because my symptoms came on so quickly, my doctor suggested I get an EGD, which they did a couple weeks back. It showed signs of both acid reflux (inflamed distal esophagus), and gastritis / areas of inflammation in my stomach."
I suspect you already had GERD but for whatever reason it decided to exploxed full bore and thus it felt sudden to you.  I don't thing one night of drinking caused your GERD but now the choices you make which include eating certain foods and alocohol are triggering your symptoms.  
Do look into lifestyle changes especially where you diet is concerned.  Each person with GERD will find it's disease is unique to them.  Work closely with your Dr. and stick with us as you will find much info in the forums.
Again a warm welcome.
Moderator: Anxiety, Osteoarthritis,
GERD/Heartburn and Heart/Cardiovascular Disease.

"only as high as I reach can I grow, only as far as I seek can I go, only as deep as I look can I see, only as much as I dream can I be"

New Member

Date Joined Nov 2017
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 11/29/2017 7:47 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello Lucas,

How is your health now? Did you get rid of the acid reflux problem?
I completely understand how you feel as more or less the same thing happened with me.
I am a 25 years old female suffering from acid reflux after drinking too much tequila!
I am an occasional drinker and I do not drink heavy liquor, just wine. But this summer I decided to enjoy with my friends.
Within 5 weeks I attended 4 parties and drank tequila shots.
On the night of the 4th party I drank 2 cocktails and 5 tequila shots and just ate some nachos.
I then threw up in the night and the next day I vomitted bile twice. First it was green in color and the second time dark yellow.
After this incident I started having heartburn, which I have never had in my life before. A strong burn just below the chest. For 2 weeks I didn't visit the doctor thinking it will self heal. I just took an omeprazole tablet from the pharmacy and I was fine. Then one night after dinner I took an espresso as it usually helps me clean my stomach (I know it causes constipation for some people, but for me it improves bowel movement). Huge mistake! At 4 am in the morning I had the worst heartburn of my life.
For some weird reason even my palms were burning.
I knew I had to visit a doctor the next day.

My doctor put me on omeprazole pills (not tablets) for a month. But nothing changed, I had constant heartburn. I don't know why but the pills did not work.
I visited again and she prescribed an endoscopy to search for H pylori.

During this period another month passed and I stopped taking omeprazole as it didn't help me.
Also my symptoms changed, I started eating carefully and noted what caused heartburn and avoided those foods.
By now I stopped having heartburn instead I started having a burning sensation in my throat.

I had the endoscopy and a biopsy, which said I have no problems except esophagitis i.e. inflammation in the oesophagus.
Then I was prescribed ranitidine (H2 blocker) with gaviscon and meteospasmyl to reduce bloating.
Currently it's been 4 months since this started and I have no relief.

Now I don't feel the burning in my stomach but in the throat, and around my mouth.

I have noticed that walking after eating lunch helps a bit. Also what I eat makes some difference.

If you have found any solution please share it here. I will be really grateful.
Also, did you figure out whether it was the alcohol that caused this in the first place or it means we already had this problem but never noticed it?

Thanks for taking time to read my story.

Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2017
Total Posts : 120
   Posted 11/29/2017 8:16 PM (GMT -6)   
Speedy Gerd and Nidhi, I agree with what has been suggested above and it sounds like you are doing the right things to feel better. Did the GI say what caused the reflux? Mine was caused by a hiatal hernia (HH).

I had the highest grade of esophagitis and gastritis. I was on PPI 80mg also, but the doctor also put me on Carafate suspension, which coats the stomach. I found TUMS and milk coated my stomach also and helped relieve my symptoms. When I went on a the Carafate, after a few days much of my pain was gone. I wanted to stay on the drug for the rest of my life. However, I only needed it for about a month. It coats the stomach to protect it from the acid. Don’t worry about taking so much medicine right now. You need to heal your condition, otherwise it will get worse. I would get back in to see the doctor. The medicine should have made you feel better by now.

I was on pantoprazole 80 mg per day. I am now on 40 mg (after 3 months) and an over the counter Zantac at night. My plan is after six months to go down to 20mg then hopefully off. Take your time when you wean yourself off the drugs, otherwise you will get rebound. As I mentioned I was on Carafate suspension 2 tablespoons 4 times a day, then after a month, I tried it 3 times per day for a week then down to twice per day, then once. I have been off of it for a while. I am in a flare up, but I didn’t wait I started the Carafate on a PRN basis. I just had my first flare up (from wine) and took the Carafate two tablespoons at night and in the am for a couple of days. It quieted my inflammation feeling down. I didn’t drink alcohol or coffee, or eat spicy foods until the pain subsided. I drink a glass of wine occasionally, but it was what brought on my flare up on. This was the first time the wine bothered me.

This is a tough problem, but stress makes it worse, so go with the flow and try to stay calm.

If you have heartburn, you may want to consider a GERD diet. My GERD diet was to stay away from anything that made the heartburn burn. It was lots of different types of food - bananas, fruit juice, tuna fish, some people say dairy but not me - salty food - pretzels, potatoe chips, oranges, coffee, spicy food, alcohol and anything that was acidy (to name a few)

Post Edited (Yellow1955) : 11/29/2017 6:51:16 PM (GMT-7)

Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2017
Total Posts : 120
   Posted 11/29/2017 8:48 PM (GMT -6)   
Speedy Gerd - Update to my previous post - I should mention that everyone is different. I didn’t have heartburn - only pain from inflammation. I had a hiatal hernia which caused my heartburn and I had surgery to fix the problem. I got the gastritis and esophagitis from very painful personal stress and the expected inflammation caused by the surgery. As usual, I waited to seek help, so my condition became very painful.

You may be in so much pain because you have both conditions at the same time. Heartburn feels like a burn and is exacerbated when you eat or drink acidy foods, or burp. Inflammaton is a low grade burn but more like a deep gnawing pain. Both conditions can keep. you awake all night. The doctor can advise you on what to expect.

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16792
   Posted 11/29/2017 9:16 PM (GMT -6)   
This thread is over 5 years old. Lucas has not posted since the above date.
Moderator in Chronic Pain & Psoriasis Forums

Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2017
Total Posts : 120
   Posted 11/30/2017 11:20 AM (GMT -6)   
Oh sorry you are right. This post was brought to the top so I answered it. Is there anyway to close posts old posts? I hope he is doing better and his problem is solved. I’ll check posting dates. Thans for the information.
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