What Causes Waking Up With Heartburn
At any given point, your stomach contains acid that it uses to break down your food after eating. Sometimes, that acid can escape through the esophagus, a tube that carries food from your mouth to the stomach. A muscle that holds the esophagus tightly called the esophagal sphincter can also relax, which leads to acid coming back up until it reaches the throat and this is the feeling of heartburn that you get.
When you lie down to sleep, heartburn can get worse as the valve from the stomach to the esophagus can open up. Because heartburn can affect you while asleep and immediately upon waking up, it can lead to physical discomfort.
We take a look at a couple of everyday food and lifestyle habits which contribute to heartburn below.
What Is Gastroesophageal Reflux
Gastroesophageal reflux , also called reflux, is when food and acid from the stomach go back up into the esophagus. This causes an uncomfortable feeling in the chest, often called heartburn.
With GER, reflux happens after nearly every meal and causes noticeable discomfort. After eating, people with GER feel a burning sensation in the chest, neck, and throat.
While it’s more common in adults, kids, teens, and even babies can have gastroesophageal reflux.
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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Why Is Acid Reflux Worse At Night
One reason that acid reflux is worse at night has to do with gravity. When youre active and awake, youre normally in an upright position. Gravity helps you digest without any acid coming back up into your esophagus. In the evening as you relax, or when youre laying down in bed, its easier for acid to make its way back up into your esophagus.
During the day you swallow often. This helps keep stomach acid down. However, during the night youre no longer swallowing, and stomach acid is more likely to backflow into the esophagus. The saliva you swallow can also neutralize stomach acid, but during the night you arent producing or swallowing saliva.
Do Certain Activities Cause Heartburn
High-impact sports, such as running, rowing, high intensity interval training, and powerlifting, as well as activities that are done while the body is inverted or flat, like swimming or yoga, can cause heartburn or make it worse . Heartburn is caused by a loosening of the lower esophageal muscle. Exercises that push the stomach or keep the body from being upright may contribute to heartburn and GERD.
Exercise is an important part of staying healthy. If you struggle with heartburn, opt for lower impact, upright activities, like walking, light jogging or easy cycling. If you prefer to engage in high-intensity workouts, it could help to adjust when you eat. Try to eat a few hours before your workout to prevent heartburn.
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What I Found Was Terrifying:
Recent studies prove that acid reflux is the number one cause of not just one or two, but SIX types of fatal cancers .
And were talking strong connection.
Heartburn increases your risk of
- cancer in the larynx by 286%
- cancer in the hypopharynx by 254%
- cancer in the oropharynx by 247%
- cancer in the tonsils by 214%
- cancer in the nasopharynx by 204%
- cancer in the sinuses by 140%.
Sum it all up, and youre 1345% more likely to get one of these six cancers than does a person who doesnt suffer heartburn.
One thousand, three hundred, and forty five percent.
Thats a lot!
How Is Heartburn Treated
In most cases, heartburn can be treated at home with over-the-counter medications and changes to lifestyle habits that cause the feeling. Occasional heartburn is common and is typically not serious. However, if you have frequent and severe heartburn, reach out to your healthcare provider. This could be a sign of a chronic condition like GERD. GERD can lead to other serious conditions like esophagitis, Barretts esophagus and even cancer. Sometimes, your doctor may want to do an endoscopy to check for underlying medication conditions. An endoscopy is the examination of your digestive tract with a lighted flexible instrument.
Over-the-counter medications for heartburn typically include antacids and acid blockers.
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The Link Between Nighttime Heartburn And Insomnia
The effects of nighttime heartburn aren’t confined to esophagus. It can also result in chronic insomnia. Nighttime heartburn can wake you up and keep you up.
“The symptoms definitely aggravate insomnia,” says Dave White, who has suffered from nighttime heartburn for years. “I’ll wake up with cutting heartburn pain and then have to wait for the effects of to kick in, which can take an hour or so. When that happens, I’ll just get out of bed, since I know I’ll be up anyway.”
One study showed just how common nighttime heartburn can be. Researchers questioned nearly 15,300 average people and found that a whopping 25% reported having nighttime heartburn. The results were published in the journal CHEST.
Another survey of 1,900 people with GERD in the U.S. and Europe found that about half had trouble sleeping at night. In these people, GERD symptoms caused a 22% impairment of leisure activities and a 15% impairment of their ability to work. The findings were presented during the 2005 Digestive Disease Week, an international conference for gastroenterologists. So the pain — and consequences — of nighttime heartburn go well beyond that burning in your chest.
Links Between Acid Reflux & Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Acid reflux can often lead to difficulty sleeping. Most people with GRED find that the symptoms become much worse in the evening, and that the acid reflux will wake them up during the night.
Acid reflux and obstructive sleep apnea are linked. When you stop breathing during an episode of sleep apnea, the air pressure in your lungs will change. This can cause acid reflux, drawing stomach acid back up into your esophagus. Another factor that can cause acid reflux is that you normally breathe harder right after your breathing has restarted. This more forceful breath could also draw stomach acid back up into the esophagus.
Acid reflux can also cause sleep apnea. When you have acid reflux during the night, you may have spasms of the throat muscles and vocal cords that can block the airway and lead to obstructive sleep apnea.
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Change Your Sleeping Position
Even if you didnt eat for a few hours before you laid down to sleep, you could start feeling heartburn once you lay down immediately.
Why does this happen if your body has already had ample time to digest?
Simply put, the position that you are in when you lay on your back puts extra pressure on the sphincter at the bottom of your esophagus.
This sphincter is the LES, the muscle separating your stomach from your esophagus and is the root of acid reflux disorders.
When the LES is pressed on when you lie down flat, it can cause reflux to occur.
To avoid this, make sure you are elevating your head and shoulders when you sleep and not simply laying flat.
This can easily be done by putting a few pillows behind you.
How Acid Reflux/gerd May Cause Upper Back Pain
Acid reflux back pain is rare.
But to understand acid reflux related back pain we need to understand what causes the pain.
Heartburn is a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease and is caused when stomach acid regularly enters the lower esophagus.
The lower esophagus sphincter is a round shaped muscle located at the bottom the esophagus, just before the entrance to your stomach.
The sphincter acts like a one stop valve. Meaning, it opens one way.
As you swallow the sphincter opens to allow food into the stomach then, closes to stop stomach acid escaping back into the esophagus.
Sometimes, the valve-like muscle is too relaxed or weakens and doesnt close fully. This allows stomach acid to flow back up the esophagus and its corrosive effect causes a burning sensation in the chest and sore throat.
Chronic heartburn can cause severe pain that can radiate to the upper back causing pain and discomfort between the shoulder blades.
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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.
How Do You Get Rid Of Heartburn
Studies show that reducing overall body weight has a positive impact on reducing heartburn symptoms. Eating a diet full of fiber, protein, healthy fats, and vegetables can help lower your overall body mass. Exercising regularly, even just taking a walk around your neighborhood, can also help you lower body weight, and help you sleep . Cutting back on smoking, caffeine intake, and alcohol consumption significantly reduces heartburn attacks and also promotes better sleep.
Antacids, an over-the-counter medication, can manage mild heartburn symptoms by neutralizing the acid in your stomach. They are effective in reducing symptoms but require frequent administering and should not be taken longer than a few days.
Check with your doctor before starting any medication. If over-the-counter medication does not help, your doctor may be able to prescribe additional medication.
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Drink Lemon Water When Waking
Its important to rehydrate when you wake up. Thats because a dry throat can often make symptoms of acid reflux even worse. Water is a great option as it is alkaline. It has a positive effect in balancing out the powerful acidity contained in stomach acid.Drinking lemon water helps with reflux symptoms. Lemon water helps to reduce inflammation naturally and activate the digestive system after sleeping.
Will Heartburn Go Away On Its Own
For many people, occasional heartburn is common. By watching what you eat and avoiding certain triggers , you may be able to prevent heartburn or manage it. If you find that you frequently experience heartburn and that it keeps getting worse, it could be a sign of a medical condition like GERD. In these cases, your heartburn will not go away without treatment. Talk to your healthcare provider so that you can develop a treatment plan.
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When Do I Need To Seek Help
If the gasping for air occurs infrequently, without other symptoms , and you can get back to sleep quickly, then this may be normal and may not require further investigation.
However, recurrent gasping episodes or occurrence with other symptoms should be reviewed with a doctor.
Any episode chest pain or ongoing shortness of breath deserves immediate medical attention.
If an underlying cause is identified, then treatment is available to allow a return to restful uninterrupted sleep.
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What Are Acid Reflux And Heartburn
Your esophagus contains a small muscle that constricts when youre not eating, keeping stomach acid from splashing out of your stomach back up into your esophagus. However, sometimes this muscle is weakened or doesnt work properly, allowing acid to move from the stomach into the esophagus. This is the cause of acid reflux and heartburn.
Acid reflux has a number of symptoms:
- Heartburn: a feeling of burning pain in the abdomen or chest that usually occurs after eating, while bending over or exercising, or when lying down.
- A sour-sweet and irritating feeling of acid splashing up into your esophagus
- Bitter taste in the mouth
- Difficulty swallowing, a feeling of something in your throat, and regurgitation
Note: Heartburn is not directly related to the heart, though pain can occur in the chest because of the location of the stomach and lower portion of the esophagus. However, severe heartburn and heart attack symptoms can sometimes be difficult to tell apart. If youre experiencing abnormally severe chest pain, its important to seek emergency medical attention especially if you have a personal or family history of heart disease.
Acid reflux and heartburn in the morning can be both a nuisance and moderately painful. However, if left untreated, they can also cause serious damage to your esophagus in some cases, this can even lead to esophageal cancer.
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Benefits Of Sleeping At An Incline
According to an article published in the journal Missouri medicine, head of bed elevation is proven to manage GERD. It limits how often stomach acid escapes to the esophagus, allows your body to get stomach acid back to your stomach quicker, and reduces the symptoms of GERD. Likewise, a 2012 study suggests that elevating the head while lying down may reduce nighttime acid reflux and help manage heartburn and poor sleep from nocturnal gastroesophageal reflux.
As long as your entire torso is raised , sleeping at an incline gives gravity a power boost to return stomach acid to your stomach and keep it there.
Speak with your doctor if you think you have GERD or any other sleep disorder so they can prescribe interventions appropriate for your case.
An Unexpected Sore Spot
A morning sore throat may be the sign of something deeper. The cause could be GERD, and the condition may be the reason lozenges are ineffective. Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a digestive disorder affecting the lower esophageal sphincter . The LES is the ring of muscle between the esophagus and stomach.
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How Do You Know What Is The Cause
Detailed history and examination by doctor along with few investigations is required for the diagnosis of the particular cause of heartburn. Your doctor can do urea breath tests for knowing if there is presence of H pylori in the intestine or not. Further, upper endoscopy may be required where your doctor looks upon the causes in stomach with a thin pipe inserted via your mouth.
Causes Of Heartburn And Acid Reflux
The best way to deal with heartburn is to prevent it from happening. You can lessen the risk of experiencing heartburn by avoiding fatty and acidic foods, such as:
- Spicy foods
Having a healthy and balanced diet will certainly improve your condition and help you wake up without the uncomfortable feeling.
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Is Gerd Keeping You Up At Night
People with GERD often have a hard time getting a good night’s sleep because of persistent acid reflux. Find out how to cut down on this problem.
Youre trying to get a good nights sleep, but it just isnt happening. In addition to tossing and turning, the burning sensation of heartburn isnt making your sleep efforts any easier.
Whats going on? Was it something you ate? Your sleeping position?
Heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, are frequent causes of sleeplessness. As many as one in four people who experience sleep disturbances report that they have nighttime heartburn.
For people who have been diagnosed with GERD, the rate is even higher three people out of four report having nocturnal GERD symptoms. These individuals are more likely to suffer sleep problems such as insomnia, sleep apnea, and daytime sleepiness as a result of their nighttime heartburn.
Sleeplessness poses a serious health problem. In addition to the physical and mental effects that stem from lack of sleep, people who experience nocturnal GERD are at greater risk for some of the worst complications of the disease, including erosive esophagitis, dyspepsia, and esophageal cancer.
How Does GERD Disturb Sleep?
Researchers have figured out several ways in which GERD-related acid reflux interferes with sleep:
GERD and Sleep Position: Dos and Don’ts
If you are a GERD sufferer, you can do a lot to improve your quality of sleep by changing your sleeping position. Doctors recommend that you:
Treating Severe Heartburn And Gerd
The newest — and most effective — class of heartburn drugs are the proton pump inhibitors. These work by blocking the effects of an enzyme that produces acid in the stomach. So far, only Prilosec OTC is available over-the-counter. Other proton pump inhibitors, such as Aciphex, Nexium, Prevacid, and Protonix, are available with a prescription from your doctor.
A lot of people find that one prescription medication on its own may not be enough. For severe GERD, Spechler says that you may need not only one to two daily doses of a proton pump inhibitor, but also a bedtime dose of an H2 receptor antagonist. You may need over-the-counter antacids, too. In some cases, your doctor may recommend surgery to correct the problem that’s causing your symptoms. But surgery isn’t always a complete solution. Some people still wind up needing medication afterwards. Be sure you’re under a doctor’s care if you take heartburn drugs regularly. They can slightly increase the risk of pneumonia.
The key is to get treatment. If you have frequent nighttime heartburn — and lifestyle changes aren’t helping — see your doctor.
“In recent years, we’ve become more and more aware of GERD as a risk for much more serious conditions, even cancer,” says Cheskin. “It’s not just heartburn. So you shouldn’t be complacent about it until you have it checked out.”
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