What to Do for Acid Reflux at Night


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Acid reflux can strike at any time, with symptoms, such as heartburn usually occurring shortly after eating large meals or when lying down.  However, did you know that approximately 8 out of 10 heartburn suffers will experience nighttime symptoms?  Therefore, if you suffer from bedtime heartburn, you need to know what to do for acid reflux to help prevent symptoms from occurring.

First of all, you may be wondering why heartburn occurs at night.  There are many reasons why acid reflux is more likely to occur while you sleep, such as:
• Relaxed lower esophageal sphincter (LES) – when you sleep all of the muscles in your body naturally relax, which can encourage acid to leak into your esophagus.
• Absence of swallowing – During sleep, the swallowing reflex is inhibited.  Swallowing allows saliva to neutralize any digestive fluids that may be in the esophagus lining.
• Laying flat – laying flat in your bed enables stomach acid to easily flow into the esophagus and remain in the esophagus for a longer period of time, which can lead to heartburn.

To stop nighttime heartburn flare ups from causing damage to your esophagus, and interrupting your sleep, here’s what you can do for acid reflux relief:

1. Eat 3 hours before bedtime and eliminate foods from your diet that trigger acid reflux.   Avoid foods and beverages that are known to trigger acid reflux (I.E. high fat foods, citrus fruits, caffeinated beverages, alcohol, etc.) Do not indulge in late night snacking and make sure the last meal you eat is one of a moderate portion.  If you must have a large meal, eat a more substantial serving of food at lunchtime.   Furthermore, limit your liquid intake to water before bed.

2. Sleep on an incline.  Prop your head and shoulders up with a few pillows or a wedge pillow so that you are not lying flat on your back.  The slight slope you create with your body helps to prevent acid from traveling further up your esophagus and remaining there to initiate heartburn.

3. Sleep on your left side.  Some studies have found that sleeping on the left side can aid acid reflux nighttime prevention, as this position appears to help remove stomach acid from the esophagus.  On the other hand, sleeping on the right side has shown to make heartburn worse.

4. Sleep in loose fitting pajamas or clothes. Clothing that is constricting around your torso, especially your abdomen or waist, such as tight elastic pants, places pressure on the stomach which can force digestive contents and fluids against the LES and up into the esophagus.

5. Take an antacid before going to bed.  Although your first “what to do for acid reflux” instinct shouldn’t be to take medications, if your nighttime heartburn is exceptionally bothersome, taking an antacid or two before bed will work to quickly neutralize acid and treat your symptoms or prevent an episode from occurring.  If longer relief is necessary, an H2 blocker may be more effective.

Finally, if you are finding that the above techniques are not helping in alleviating heartburn, what to do for acid reflux at this point, is visit your health care provider for a proper diagnosis and a new treatment plan.  You may find that you are suffering from a more serious condition such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a peptic ulcer, or a hiatal hernia.
 


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9 Responses

  1. Becky Berens
    April 17th, 2008 | 3:54 pm

    I really appreciate the things that you have come up with to help us others with Acid Reflux. Any little different item can help.

    Thanks Again
    berensrebecca@yahoo.com

  2. John Cran
    April 17th, 2008 | 8:35 pm

    Manuka Ti Tree honey one tea spoon after every meal is a winner.

  3. Ninad
    April 18th, 2008 | 10:37 am

    plz send me some more treatment methods on this.i m feeling helpless

  4. April 19th, 2008 | 6:03 pm

    so why am I so afraid to eat different things now I think it might give me a stomach ache that is why and if it does then I will have to deal with that problem. After I eat certain foods how long will it take before I will know if it hurt me or not. How long does it take food to move through your body.

  5. April 19th, 2008 | 6:17 pm

    does soy milk or any soy products work for anyone?

  6. Sandra
    April 21st, 2008 | 1:58 am

    I have also raised the head of my bed about 4 inches and that seemed to help a little. I also found switching to sleeping on my left side better but I still wake up with a horrible taste in my mouth most nights. Thankfully I don’t get waken up by the acid reflux.

  7. May 5th, 2008 | 4:15 pm

    vivian -

    Being concerned about the effects food may have on you is understandable.

    The effect of food on your symptoms will depend on a number of factors. What you eat with with the food in question, what you drink, how well you chew the food, how quickly you eat the food, whether you swallow lots of air while eating, your matabolism, what you do straight after the meal…etc.

    Also, it will depend on the reaction you personally have to the food. I know some people who can feel the effects of foods within a few minutes of eating them, and others that do not feel the effects for at least hour after.

    The rate at which food passes through the body also varies but is often referred to as the \”Bowel transit time\” (the length of time it takes for the food to move from the mouth to be passed out the body)

    It depends on the type of food you eat, the levels of fiber in your food, the amount of liquids you drink, you motility rate, metabolism and exercise..etc…

    Most people ond the standard American Diet (SAD) eat a woefully low amount of fiber and so their transit times are very high.

    Everyone is different but on a good healthy diet you should expect bowel transit times somewhere in the region of between 12 to 24 hours.

    Kathryn

  8. r.martinez
    June 27th, 2008 | 3:04 am

    FOR FIVE YEARS I SUFFERED WITH HAVING THE WRONG DIAGOSES,EMS TRIPS TO HOSPITAL (WITH LUNGS) NOT BEING ABLE TO BREATHE,HOARNESS,COUGH,NOT BE ABLE TO CLEAR MY THROAT, I WAS GIVEN STERIOD SO I COULD BREATHE I WAS ON THROAT MEDICINE,COUGH MEDICINE ,AND MY LUNG CONDITION WAS GETTING WORSE THERE WAS NOTHING DOCTORS COULD DO. MY WIFE WATCHING MY LIFE JUST SLIPPING AWAY.WHILE IN THE HOSPITAL IN APRIL 08.I ASK FOR A NOSE AND EAR AND THROAT DOCTOR TO CHECK MY TONGLICS.GOD BLESS THIS DOCTOR IT’S SILENT ACID REFLUX HE SAID.HOW THIS HAS CHANGE MY LIFE, I CAN SLEEP WITHOUT GRASPING FOR AIR,,MY COUGH, MY HOARNESS ARE ALMOST GONE AND AS FAR AS MY LUNG THEY SEEM TO BE GETTING I AM OFF OF PREDISONE AFTER DOCTOR HAD SAID IT COULD NOT BE DONE.

  9. Beverly P. Mewborn
    January 10th, 2012 | 9:43 am

    For a year now, I\’ve been experiecing gerd disease. My symptoms are worst at night. the burning sensation in my throat and stomach and the annoying shortness of breath causes me to stay up all night. then here comes the anxiety. what is one to do? I\’m tired!!!

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