The ongoing stress and strain of life during a global pandemic has created its fair share of disruption to daily routines, and uncertainty about the future has led many people to seek refuge in food or alcohol. As a result, many Americans are experiencing more heartburn, acid reflux and other digestive issues causing a run on antacids to help treat “Pandemic Stomach”.
According to the American Pharmacists Association, antacids are flying off the shelves and some people have pivoted from hoarding toilet paper and bleach to stockpiling Tums and Pepcid. Contributing to the problem, recent studies have found the heartburn drug Zantac contains low-levels of carcinogens. The FDA called for its removal from shelves and urged people to stop taking both the prescription and over the counter versions.
Drug companies are aware of the shortage and are working to keep up with demand, but some people who rely on these OTC antacids for relief may need to find alternatives to control symptoms. Limiting sweets, spicy or fried foods, caffeine and alcohol can help control heartburn and acid reflux. Don’t forget that regular exercise can ease anxiety and depression that may worsen symptoms.
Eating foods that help the digestive system stay in balance can also help prevent troublesome stomach problems and reflux. Probiotics in yogurt, as well as ginger, peppermint, wheatgrass, papaya, pineapple and apple cider vinegar, can help provide enzymes to reduce digestive disorders. If you have or suspect you have food sensitivities, talk with your doctor about a blood test or elimination diet to help identify problematic foods.
Because stress can have a profound effect on physical health, it’s important to find ways to unplug and calm the mind each day. Meditation, journaling, listening to music or spending time in nature are all beneficial activities to help people unplug and recharge in order to cope better with daily stressors that may contribute to pandemic stomach.
As always, check first with your doctor or pharmacists before taking any new medication, including OTC drugs and supplements, for possible interactions and side effects.