Soft drinks, fizzy drinks, soda – what are they?
Soft drinks contain:
- water, which is often carbonated
- added sugar or some other sweetener
- natural and/or artificial flavors
Caffeine, colorings, and preservatives are also often added to soft drinks.
They might contain a small amount of alcohol, up to 0.5% of alcohol. Drinks with higher alcohol content are considered alcoholic and called “hard” or alcoholic drinks.
Why does your chest hurt when you drink soda?
Dissolved carbon dioxide, acids, a lot of sugar, drinking soda cold can all contribute to chest discomfort caused by fizzy drinks.
There are the most common reasons why soda might cause chest pain:
- acid reflux
- heart problems
- esophageal spasm
- digestive problems
Can drinking soda trigger acid reflux?
Acid reflux happens when the contents of the stomach can flow up into the food pipe, irritating the lining of the esophagus (this is called heartburn) and causing other symptoms.
Drinking soda can increase the risk of an acid reflux episode in many ways:
- It’s carbonated, the gas increases the pressure in the stomach, which makes acid flowback more likely.
- It contains a lot of sugar. Too much added sugar causes overproduction of stomach acids, especially if you are insulin resistant. Sugar might also relax the LES.
- It’s cold. Cold drinks can increase the pressure on the LES.
If the soda contains some caffeine or alcohol, reflux attacks are even more likely, as both might relax the LES.
Why does your heart hurt when you drink soda?
According to the Harvard Medical School:
Too much added sugar can be one of the greatest threats to cardiovascular disease.(source)
Since soda usually contains high amounts of added sugar, you should really limit your consumption, or completely eliminate soda from your diet.
(Looks like diet soda can also cause heart disease.)
Esophageal spasm and soda
Esophageal spasms are painful contractions of muscles in your esophagus. Chest pain is a common symptom.
While the exact causes are not known, experience shows that these are the likely causes:
- faulty nerves
- too much acid in the food pipe
- too hot/cold foods and drinks
Since soda is both very acidic and often consumed ice-cold, it can be a trigger.
Stomach burns after drinking soda
Drinking soda can also cause stomach pain. Pretty much the same ingredients can trigger stomach problems that cause chest discomfort:
- Carbon-dioxide: Carbonated drinks can cause gas, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Because the bubbles in beverages like soda and seltzer can produce a similar fizzy effect in the GI tract, …”
- Added sugar or sweeteners: Both contribute to gas production. Added sugar is also detrimental to the gut microbiome and can cause inflammation.
- Cold: Cold drinks slow down digestion.
Most often stomach pain after drinking soda goes away within a few hours. However, long term consumption of too much added sugar can cause health issues like:
Back/shoulder/arm/neck pain after drinking soda
Even though the chest and stomach seem to be the most obvious parts of the body that could be affected by drinking soda, it is quite possible to feel symptoms in other areas after drinking soda.
In most cases, the real cause of the pain is still in the chest or stomach, but the pain radiates to other parts of the body. This is called referred pain.
These symptoms usually indicate an underlying medical condition in the heart or digestive tract, and soda acts as a trigger.
It is important to watch out for all your symptoms, as they might help to identify the underlying health condition.
Sometimes this health condition can be very serious and might require immediate medical attention. When in doubt, always seek emergency medical help!
Back pain after drinking soda
Possible conditions that might cause back pain after soda:
- Heart problems: If back pain occurs together with a sharp pain in the chest, that might indicate a heart attack or angina. Pain in the left or both shoulders and arms, jaw pain, neck pain, feeling weak, and shortness of breath are also common symptoms. This condition is a medical emergency!
- Acid reflux: Chest pain caused by acid reflux might radiate to the back. Other symptoms are regurgitation, upper stomach pain, sour taste in the mouth. The pain usually gets worse when lying down.
- Digestive organs: Problems with the gallbladder, pancreas, and kidney might all cause referred pain in the back. Ulcers are also a possible cause.
Shoulder and arm pain after drinking soda
- Right arm and shoulder pain: The most likely cause is gallstones or gallbladder inflammation.
- Left arm and shoulder pain: Both the heart and the pancreas might cause pain in the left side.
- Pain in both arms or shoulders: A heart attack might cause pain on both sides. However, if no other heart attack symptoms are observed, the cause might be simple overeating, acid reflux, or bloating.
Neck pain after drinking soda
It is not easy to diagnose eating-related neck pain. The cause can be the heart, acid reflux, gallbladder, pancreas, even stomach ulcers might cause pain in the neck.
Another possible cause is a food allergy. If you are allergic to an ingredient of the soda, swelling in the lungs or sinus pressure are possible allergic reactions. Both can cause pain in the neck.
Allergic reactions usually shortly after drinking. Other common symptoms are:
- runny nose
- itchy skin
While most allergic reactions are mild, sometimes allergy can cause anaphylaxis, which requires immediate help.
Soda, fizzy drinks can cause all kinds of serious health issues, especially in the long term.
The main problem with soda is the high sugar content, which might cause most of the above-mentioned diseases and symptoms.
Sometimes you might experience symptoms because of the gas content or drinking it cold. In most cases, such symptoms are not serious and should go away within a few hours.
The bottom line is that soda does not provide any value to your body. We recommend eliminating it from your diet or at least drinking it very occasionally.