Perhaps the most regularly insidious of health issues are those that are common and irritating to experience. Acid reflux at night, something that many are familiar with, is a common form of health problem that ticks both of those boxes. Signed in irritable triplicate is the health condition that can cause you problems gaining regular and restful sleep, and once again, acid reflux boasts that definition.
Surviving Acid Reflux
What is Acid Reflux
Acid reflux is the result of stomach acid flowing up into the oesophagus, which can cause a burning irritation and pain in the lower chest area. It can also lead to a significant increase in phlegm, which can lead to a shortness of breath, especially at night. It is also extremely uncomfortable to deal with, in some cases causing pain for long periods of time.
Identifying acid reflux is easy, but misnomers have caused the condition to gain a somewhat misinformed definition. Known as heartburn, this irritable condition thankfully has little to do with the heart, but it’s not hard to see how this mischaracterization came into being.
Acid reflux at night can also be much worse and has been linked too many common sleep disorders. Laying down causes the usual gravity pull of your upright self to be balanced across your whole body, and this in itself can lead to stomach acid rising up to your throat. This can be quite uncomfortable to deal with, often leading to a shortness of breath and wakefulness. At night, it can also be felt more intensely, and to this end can cause people no small amount of frustration.
What are the causes?
Despite the prevalence of this condition, it’s not fully clear what causes this condition to begin, nor who are most at risk. However, there are lifestyle factors that can contribute to the likelihood that you will experience it, or that someone currently suffering may help it to become worse.
- Eating spicy foods.
- Drinking alcohol, especially frequently.
- Eating citrus fruits.
- Drinking coffees.
- Smoking, especially frequently.
- Taking aspirin, paracetamol and ibuprofen, especially in conjunction with one another.
- Sedentary living.
Anyone with even a slight interest in any of the above may feel it’s quite unfair that they should be punished in this way, as only smoking, sedentary living and drinking are the unhealthy lifestyle factors on that list, with most people partaking in some form of alcohol consumption or periods of sedentary activity from time to time. Unfortunately, we cannot decide how our body reacts to certain lifestyle conditions, but we can try to implement better and healthier approaches.
How can I manage Acid Reflux at night?
Acid reflux, especially at night, can thankfully be managed to some degree. It’s important that you implement practical lifestyle changes if this is causing you harm. After all, a regular loss of sleep can lead to a much reduced quality of life and an immune system reduced in strength, and this in itself can be a real problem. We would recommend, especially in regards to your sleep, the following management advice:
- Do not eat for a couple of hours before bed.
- Keep an active lifestyle with as regular exercise as you can reasonably manage.
- Stay hydrated, with water next to your bed at night.
- Elevate your body, especially your torso. This can be achieved through careful application of pillows or selecting a mattress with the ability to raise. These products are becoming the norm for a wide array of medical conditions, and they are worth the investment. 6-8 inches of elevation is usually enough.
- Wear loose-fitting pajamas.
- Stop smoking (thoroughly worthwhile advice in itself, this will contribute to a range of health benefits that are too good to pass up).
- Reduce or stop your drinking to whatever is most appropriate to you. Remember the alcohol intake unit guide in order to direct your drinking habits more appropriately.
- Do your best to maintain a healthy weight, guided by the correct BMI guidelines for your age and height.
- Talk to your doctor about medications that might help. Gaviscon (a foaming agent) can help prevent heartburn for example.
- Speak to your doctor about other symptoms you may be experiencing, as it’s important to ensure it is acid reflux your suffering rather than approximating self-diagnosis.
If your condition gets worse or it feels much more uncomfortable, it’s also important to bring this up with your physician.
Acid reflux is an irritating, painful, and often unpredictable condition. Unfortunately, many suffer it. With a wide array of lifestyle changes and practical management solutions, you can both help and spread awareness of this condition, and live a healthier, more manageable life as a result.