Keys To Avoid Night Reflux

Thousands of people are constantly looking for ways to avoid nighttime reflux. Although this condition can occur at any time of the day, for many it is more frequent at night and, in fact, it becomes a trigger for sleep disturbances.

Gastroesophageal reflux is caused by a weakening of the esophageal sphincter, which allows stomach acids to return to the esophagus and mouth. As a result of this, the affected person perceives an uncomfortable burning sensation or irritation at the level of the sternum, which is usually accompanied by chest pain, heartburn and swallowing difficulties.

Fortunately, in most cases it is mild and does not lead to serious complications. Despite this, it is advisable to pay attention to it, because if it is repeated continuously it can affect both sleep and quality of life in general. How to control it? In the next space, we share some keys with you.

Why do I have reflux at night?

There are several factors that are related to increased acid reflux during the night period. First of all, it is associated with overly large and irritating dinners, especially when taken shortly before going to bed.

Since digestion is difficult and the body remains in a lying position, the tone of the esophageal sphincter decreases and acid secretions manage to return to the esophagus and mouth. The same is true when consuming very hot beverages before sleeping or when lying down in an inappropriate position.

However, this problem is also common among tobacco users, people subjected to stressful situations and those who wear nightwear that is too tight. Therefore, the first line of treatment is to improve your lifestyle, correcting bad habits that can cause or worsen it.

Keys to avoid reflux at night

There are several measures that can help prevent nighttime reflux, especially when it is a recurring or severe problem. While it is important to see your doctor to determine if there is an underlying cause for your symptoms, these recommendations can generally support your treatment.

Avoid eating before sleeping

Although it is not advisable to go to bed without eating, it is also not correct to eat dishes shortly before bedtime. The ideal is to have a light dinner, about two or three hours before going to sleep. Thus, the acid secretions of the stomach will be under control when going to bed.

Limit consumption of irritating foods

Foods that increase the level of heartburn can make nighttime reflux symptoms worse. Therefore, it is advisable to limit, especially at night, the consumption of tomatoes, caffeine, sausages, fried foods, spicy dishes and alcoholic beverages.

Raise the head of the bed

One of the most advisable measures to avoid night reflux is to sleep with your torso slightly elevated. To do this, it is convenient to raise the head of the bed.

According to a study published in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology , elevating the head of the bed helps reduce esophageal acid exposure and acid elimination time in nocturnal reflux. This, in turn, could reduce associated sleep disturbances.

However, according to the Mayo Clinic, elevating the head with additional pillows is insufficient to achieve this effect. Therefore, the ideal would be to raise the body from the waist up. In this sense, it would be nice to have an adjustable bed; however, as it is rare for patients to have one, the recommendation is to use a wedge pillow. 

Sleeping on the left side

Although the reasons are not entirely clear, sleeping on the left side may decrease nighttime reflux episodes. Apparently, for anatomical reasons, sleeping on the right side of the stomach causes the esophageal sphincter to be more exposed to stomach acid, which causes reflux.

Lose weight

Overweight and obese patients need to lose weight to control reflux. Due to the accumulation of fat in the abdominal perimeter, gastric compression increases and the acids manage to return to the esophagus.

Avoid the consumption of alcohol and tobacco

Not just before going to bed, but during the rest of the day. These habits can even aggravate symptoms.

Wear comfortable clothes

For comfort and health, it is best to choose loose clothing to sleep. Pajamas that are too tight can increase intra-abdominal pressure, allowing acidic stomach secretions to return.

Manage stress

Proper stress management not only reduces the risk of nocturnal reflux, but also promotes a good quality of sleep. For this, it is recommended to practice relaxation techniques, such as meditation, yoga or reading.

Seek medical advice

If symptoms persist or worsen despite applying these recommendations, it is best to see a doctor. The professional will be the one who determines its cause and the most appropriate treatment.

What to take for gastric reflux?

In addition to applying the recommendations mentioned in the previous section, to promote the relief of the discomfort of nocturnal reflux we can also consider the use of a reflux medication such as Gaviscon, which combats the burning sensation and heartburn. Thanks to its double action, it forms a protective raft in the pit of the stomach, preventing acids from rising into the esophagus and thus fighting the burning sensation, while quickly neutralizing excess acid in the stomach, fighting the sensation of acidity. Read the directions for this medicine and consult your pharmacist. Gaviscon is a drug from Reckitt Benckiser Healthcare, SA


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