What Are Some Ways To Relieve Heartburn At Night
One thing you can do to identify the causes of your nighttime heartburn is to track and write down your behavior around bedtime. For instance, if you tend to snack before bedtime, try eating those foods earlier in the day to see if symptoms improve.
Here are some lifestyle modifications that may help minimize heartburn symptoms at night.
Avoid eating anything within three hours of bedtime. Eating a late heavy dinner can cause stomach contents to press harder against the lower part of your esophagus when you lie down to sleep. Eating earlier in the evening could eliminate heartburn symptoms.
Wear looser clothing. Remove any tight-fitting clothing, drawstrings, or belts that fit snugly around your waist. Tight clothing can squeeze your stomach and cause heartburn and acid reflux.
Sleep on your left side. Evidence suggests that sleeping on your right side may worsen nighttime heartburn symptoms, while sleeping on your left may improve digestion.
Avoid alcohol, carbonated beverages, and these trigger foods before bedtime: Beer, wine, liquor, tomatoes, marinara sauce, chocolate, peppermint tea, dairy, and spicy foods are all linked to heartburn.
Elevate your head while sleeping. Sleep with the upper part of your body elevated to prevent stomach contents from flowing back up into your esophagus when you go to bed. Consider using a wedge-shaped pillow or blocks that raise the head of your bed.
When To See A Healthcare Provider
Contact your healthcare provider if you have:
- Heartburn that wont go away
- Serious wheezing, or a high-pitched sound that occurs while breathing
- More severe or frequent heartburn symptoms
- Consistent hoarseness
- Been taking over-the-counter antacids for more than two weeks and still have heartburn symptoms
- Vomiting due to heartburn
- Heartburn that isn’t relieved by prescription medicine
It is important to contact your healthcare provider about your symptoms and progress. They can help you with any questions and concerns about your specific condition.
Tips For Nighttime Heartburn Relief
1. Sleep on your left side.This position seems to help reduce nighttime heartburn symptoms, says David A. Johnson, MD, internal medicine division chief at Eastern Virginia School of Medicine, Norfolk, Va. To remember which side to sleep on, Johnson offers this memory trick: Right is wrong.
2. Lose weight, even a little. Heartburn often just gets worse as you gain weight, but losing as little as two and a half pounds can help reduce heartburn symptoms, Johnson says.
3. Sleep with your upper body elevated. When you lay flat in bed, your throat and stomach are basically at the same level, making it easy for stomach acids to flow up your esophagus, causing heartburn. You can elevate your body in two ways:
- Put the head of your bed on 4- to 6-inch blocks.
- Sleep on a wedge-shaped pillow that’s at least 6 to 10 inches thick on one end. Don’t substitute regular pillows they just raise your head, and not your entire upper body.
4. Wear loose-fitting clothes. Tight clothes, especially near your waist, can put pressure on your stomach, leading to heartburn symptoms.
6. Steer clear of late-night meals or big meals. Avoid eating meals two to three hours before bedtime to reduce stomach acid and allow the stomach to partially empty its contents before you sleep, suggests the American Gastroenterological Association. Because large meals put pressure on your stomach, try eating a smaller meal in the evening to help prevent nighttime heartburn symptoms.
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Why Is Gerd Worse After Going To Bed
There are several explanations for why GERD is commonly worse at night after going to bed:
- When lying down, gravity no longer helps keep stomach acid down, making it easier for reflux to occur.
- Saliva can help neutralize stomach acid, but production of saliva is reduced during deeper stages of sleep.
A combination of these effects can facilitate the leakage of stomach acid into the esophagus and allow the acid to remain in place for longer, potentially causing more severe GERD symptoms, including those that can disturb sleep. The problem may be even greater if a person goes to bed soon after eating and/or eats foods that trigger GERD.
Which Foods Can Make Heartburn Worse
Certain foods are found to be more commonly associated with triggering heartburn than others. Foods and beverages linked to heartburn include.
Citrus juices:Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruits are highly acidic and may contribute to acid reflux.
Coffee:Caffeine in coffee relaxes the lower part of the esophagus and contributes to heartburn and acid reflux, while some varieties also contain more acidity.
Peppermint: This plant is found to have relaxing effects on the sphincter muscle that separates the stomach from the esophagus, which contribute to heartburn.
Soda & Other Carbonated Beverages:Bubbles in carbonated soda can expand inside the stomach and increase pressure, pushing stomach acids back up the esophagus.
Excessive Salt: High-sodium diets have been linked to acid reflux and heartburn.
Spicy foods: Spicy foods may contribute to heartburn and further irritation to an inflamed esophagus because they contain compounds that slow the bodys digestion rate.
Alcohol: Beer, wine, and liquor have sedative effects that relax the lower part of the esophagus and make it easier for acid to flow back into the esophagus.
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What Causes Heartburn And What Does It Feel Like Exactly
According to the American College of Gastroenterology, stomach acid is needed to break down the food you eat, something your stomach has no trouble handling. Your esophagus, on the other hand, is irritated by it.
To keep stomach acid in your stomach and out of your esophagus, a circular ring of muscle at the tube’s base, called the lower esophageal sphincter, acts as a valve. When this valve is relaxed, food you’ve consumed is allowed to pass through to your stomach. When contracted, this valve prevents this food and acid from backing up into your esophagus.
If this valve relaxes abnormally and stomach acid is allowed to travel back into your esophagus, acid reflux occurs. Heartburn is the most well-known and obvious symptom.
It can feel differently depending on its severity, but heartburn symptoms include:
- A burning sensation in your chest, behind your breastbone
- Burning pain that rises up toward your throat
- Having a bitter or sour taste in your mouth
Acid reflux and heartburn are sometimes caused by an underlying medical condition, or even a medication you’re taking in some cases. But, more often than not, they’re triggered by things like your diet and lifestyle choices making the occasional bout of heartburn fairly common.
Common triggers of heartburn include:
A Pharmacist Can Help With Heartburn And Acid Reflux
Speak to a pharmacist for advice if you keep getting heartburn.
They may recommend medicines called antacids that can help ease your symptoms.
It’s best to take these with food or soon after eating, as this is when you’re most likely to get heartburn. They may also work for longer if taken with food.
Although antacids help symptoms in the short term, they will not cure the problem and should not be taken regularly for long periods.
If youre pregnant, a pharmacist can advise you about medicines you can take.
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What Causes Acid Reflux At Night
Acid reflux happens when the muscles at the lower part of the esophagus , which stop food from leaving the stomach, become weak or relaxed. However, gravity and anatomy play a massive role in the occurrence of nocturnal GERD symptoms.
During the day, you are more likely to be uprightstanding or sitting up. So when stomach acid escapes, gravity and saliva quickly return the content to the stomach. Youre also more likely to manage GERD symptoms by staying upright, swallowing saliva, or taking antacids when youre awake.
Plus, when upright, your esophagus naturally flows down into your stomach. This quick return of acid to your stomach typically makes your symptoms shorter and minimizes the potential harm acid can cause to the delicate lining of your esophagus.
Evidence shows that acid reflux usually happens in the first two or three hours of sleep. It usually occurs when a person lays down soon after consuming heavy meals. Studies suggest that those with GERD are more likely to experience acid reflux when they consume heavy meals late at night .
What Are The Health Consequences Of Gerd
Chronic reflux and GERD can cause serious complications. These include inflammation and ulcers of the esophagus, scar tissue that narrows the esophagus, spasms affecting the airway, chronic cough, damage to teeth, and exacerbated asthma symptoms.
In about 10-20% of cases of GERD, damage to the esophagus from stomach acid becomes a condition called Barrett esophagus. Barrett esophagus is considered to be the primary risk factor for esophageal cancer although not everyone with the condition develops cancer.
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Know Your Medication Side Effects
Certain medications may contribute to GERD. Some common ones include:
- anticholinergics, which treat, among other conditions, overactive bladder and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder
- tricyclic antidepressants
- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , such as ibuprofen
If these or other medications are causing acid reflux or other symptoms, tell your doctor. Alternative treatments may be available.
Adjust Your Sleep Position
Elevating your head and chest higher than your feet as you sleep can help prevent and ease acid reflux and heartburn. You can do this using a foam wedge placed under the mattress or by raising bedposts using wood blocks. Beware of piling pillows, as this usually isn’t effective and may even make your symptoms worse. Additionally, sleeping on your left side is thought to aid digestion and may work to limit stomach acid reflux.
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Additional Tips To Control Acid Reflux At Night
You can also make some lifestyle changes that may help you manage the occurrence of acid reflux at night and promote a well-rested night.
Some of these lifestyle recommendations include:
A doctor may also prescribe medications or recommend surgery to treat GERD when appropriate. Talk with your doctor about your symptoms so they can prescribe treatment or lifestyle recommendations to manage your condition and improve your sleep health.
If you have GERD, youre not sentenced to a lifetime of sleepless nights from acid reflux at night. By making simple tweaks to your sleeping positionchoosing the Incline + Left-Side sleepingyou can take control of your symptoms and get the recovery sleep everyone deserves.
Right Side: Its Not Right For Acid Reflux
Position #2 to avoid at night is sleeping on your right side.
When lying on your right side, your stomach is actually above your esophagus, creating a leaky faucet spouting stomach acid into the delicate lining of your esophagus. This is especially true when your stomach is full.
Interestingly, when lying flat on your right side, your reflux symptoms tend to be more liquid, leading to regurgitation, coughing, and choking, which can be very devastating in the middle of the night. Since gravity is doing nothing for you in this position, the amount of time acid lingers in your esophagus is much longer.
A study showed that people who sleep on their right side get an earlier diagnosis of GERD when they have it than those who sleep on their left, which is telling on how severe nocturnal GERD symptoms are when a person sleeps on their right side.
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What Causes This Burning Sensation
When you eat, food passes down your throat and through your esophagus to your stomach. A muscle controls the opening between the esophagus and the stomach. It remains tightly closed except when you swallow food.
When this muscle fails to close after food passes through, the acidic contents of your stomach can travel back up into the esophagus. Doctors refer to this backward movement as reflux. When stomach acid hits the lower part of the esophagus, it can produce a burning sensation. This is what we call heartburn or, more formally, gastroesophageal reflux disease .
About one in 10 adults has heartburn at least once a week, and 1 in 3 have it every month, says Dr. Gabbard. About 10 to 20% of adults have chronic heartburn.
Why Do Heartburn Symptoms Surface At Night
Heartburn is an unpleasant condition that can take the pleasure out of meals and lead to some restless nights. There are a number of contributing factors to the symptoms of heartburn, but one common denominator is the surfacing of symptoms in the evening. To find out why, let us first learn a little more about the condition itself.
What is heartburn?
Heartburn occurs when stomach acids reflux back up into the esophagus. These juices are produced by the stomach to aid in the breakdown of food and contain powerful hydrochloric acid. The stomach has a natural lining to protect itself from the potent acid however, the esophagus does not. Exposure to stomach acids can cause the esophagus to become irritated or injured resulting in heartburn. Heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease , but just because you experience heartburn does not mean you have acid reflux.
What causes heartburn?
When stomach acids enter the esophagus, heartburn occurs. In a healthy functioning esophagus, the Lower Esophageal Sphincter opens and closes resembling a one-way valve. If this valve relaxes or becomes weakened, food and acids from the stomach can back up into the esophagus causing heartburn, also known as gastroesophageal reflux.
Here are some tips to help reduce heartburn symptoms at night:
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If I Have Heartburn Should I See My Health Care Professional
That depends. If a person has heartburn more than three times a week for at least two weeks, he or she should see a health care professional. On the other hand, if a person only has occasional bouts of heartburn, he or she may find that taking nonprescription antacids and making some simple changes in lifestyle can resolve the heartburn. If these measures do not help, then a visit to a health care professional is warranted.
If a person has any of these symptoms, with or without heartburn, call a doctor or go to a hospital emergency department right away:
- Throwing up blood or passing blood in bowel movements
- Severe pain, dizziness, or lightheadedness
- Difficulty swallowing
With proper understanding of the condition and treatment, relief can be attained.
When I have chest pain, how can I tell whether it is my heart or just heartburn?
Sometimes a person can’t tell the difference. Just like chest pain from the heart, heartburn sometimes spreads from the chest to the jaw, shoulders, arms, or back. If a person has chest pain for any reason, seek medical care immediately.
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What To Do If Heartburn Is Severe Or Frequent
For mild, occasional heartburn, over-the-counter medications such as antacids and histamine blockers can help relieve symptoms. Always read the product label before taking an antacid or histamine blocker and never take a larger dose or take doses more frequently than directed.
If you’re experiencing heartburn frequently, consult your doctor before taking heartburn medications regularly since these drugs can interfere with many other medications and affect underlying health conditions you may have.
If you have severe heartburn, as well as if it persists or worsens after taking steps to relieve it, consult your doctor. In some cases, heartburn can be a sign of an underlying condition, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease , or possibly a side effect of a medication you’re taking.
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Acid Reflux Sleeping Positions
You dont have to sleep sitting upright to take advantage of the effects of gravity and anatomy on the occurrence of GERD. Still, how you sleep can directly affect how often you feel symptoms, how severe those symptoms are, and how long the acid sits in your esophagus.
The good news is that you can drastically change your nights by changing the way you sleep. But first, consult with your doctor if you suspect you have GERD or any other condition that may be disturbing your sleep.
Why Does The Sphincter Weaken
Various factors may make the lower esophageal sphincter weaker or cause it to relax at times when it should stay closed.
According to the
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology , a person can ease acid reflux they experience when trying to sleep by:
- elevating the head of the bed 6â8 inches
- avoiding lying down 2â3 hours after a meal
- eating smaller meals more frequently and not eating heavy meals before bedtime
The side of the body on which a person sleeps may also make a difference. A found sleeping on the left side alleviates acid reflux.
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Gerd And Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Research has also identified a link between GERD and obstructive sleep apnea , a sleep disorder that involves blockage of the airway that incites pauses in breathing during sleep. Debate exists among experts about whether GERD causes OSA, OSA causes GERD, or if they simply share similar risk factors.
It is possible that GERD affects the airway and ability to breathe normally, causing more apneas during the night. At the same time, people with OSA wake up frequently at night and may then detect GERD symptoms. Lack of sleep from OSA may make the esophagus more susceptible to reflux.
In addition, factors like alcohol consumption, smoking, and obesity can increase risk for both GERD and OSA, so the correlation between the conditions may be a result of these factors.
While the exact relationship between GERD and OSA is subject to further research, it is clear that the conditions can occur together and create significant complications for a persons sleep, comfort, and overall health.