About 2 months ago, I wrote about my recent heartburn problems. I took prescription antacid for 6 weeks to let my stomach heal, and that did help for a while. However, once the medicine was used up, the pain came right back. I remember two days later having terrible pain and nausea before I vomited. When the heartburn gets bad, it feels like getting stabbed in the stomach. I was afraid that this would be my condition for the rest of my life.
But then I went on a recent camping trip for Memorial Day Weekend here in the US, and suddenly my heartburn was gone. Just gone. Our friend, who’s Korean, made all kinds of spicy Korean food for us for 3 days: kimchi, galbi, pot-stickers, etc. I also had muffins and coffee, but nothing happened.
That’s when I realized that a big reason why my heartburn has started is stress. As soon as I went camping, my stress level went down, and my stomach calmed down too. When I came back from the camping trip, it started up again a couple days later, just like before. Later, when I went on the trip to see the King Tut exhibit, I had a fun, relaxing day with my wife and daughter, and even though I cooked kara-age (Japanese fried chicken), I had no heartburn at all.
Stress is definitely the main component, I think, but food is definitely contributing. One friend I talked to recently told me that she had the same issue for many years. For her, it was also stress-related, but certain foods made it worse. Foods with MSG, alcohol, and soda are all bad. My experience seems to match this. I drank a soda during the camping trip, and the heartburn came back a little, so I decided to stop drinking soda as much as possible.
It’s difficult to resist sometimes, but I’ve read on various websites that soda and caffeine are two sources for heartburn because they allow stomach acid to leak back out. Coffee I can’t quit, but I don’t drink espresso drinks much anymore, or if I do, I always drink decaffeinated. I still enjoy my little 맥심 Korean instant coffee at home and the office, but this is much weaker than espresso drinks, and much cheaper anyway.
Stress management, though, is still something I am still exploring. It might just be a simple solution: I need to get out more. My wife works very hard every day taking care of the house, driving our daughter everywhere and volunteering, but she does get very tired. So, she goes out with her friends about once a month, and I am glad she does. She certainly deserves it, but also it’s good stress relief too.
I don’t get out much lately, and all my good friends (besides my wife) moved out of state, so I probably need to find new activities outside the home regularly. I just don’t know where to begin. :p
P.S. I have a post coming up about my adventures taste-testing some Korean ramen (ramyeon), and that sometimes affects my heartburn as well. But it’s all for research, so I don’t mind. ;)