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How To Deal With Heartburn At Night

Elevate Your Head In Bed

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Keeping your head up is ideal if you experience acid reflux at night, says Huber. Piling up the pillows isn’t the best way to go about this, though, as pillows are liable to shift. An adjustable bed base might be a better option for you if you have acid reflux, says Huber. Adjustable bases make it easy to get into a sleeping position that will help mitigate symptoms.

A Pharmacist Can Help With Heartburn And Acid Reflux

Speak to a pharmacist for advice if you keep getting heartburn.

They can 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.

Mix Baking Soda With Water

You might have a heartburn remedy at hand in your kitchen without even knowing it. Baking soda can calm some episodes of heartburn by neutralizing your stomach acid.

To do this, dissolve a teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water and drink it slowly. In fact, you should drink everything slowly when you have heartburn.

help relieve nausea, so some believe it may be worth trying for heartburn, too.

Consider adding grated or diced ginger root to your favorite stir-fry recipes, soups, and other foods. To make ginger tea, steep raw ginger root, dried ginger root, or ginger tea bags in boiling water.

Its probably best to avoid ginger ale, though. Carbonated beverages are a common heartburn trigger, and most brands of ginger ale are made with artificial flavoring rather than the real thing.

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Avoid Eating Before Bed

Night-time heartburn is heartburn that occurs at night, and 79% of weekly heartburn sufferers may experience it.1 When you are upright, gravity helps keep stomach acid in the stomach where it belongs, but when you lie down at night, it can become easier for stomach acid to push past your lower esophageal sphincter and leak into your esophagus.

For many people, night-time heartburn can be more disruptive than the symptoms they experience throughout the day. Night-time heartburn can make it hard to fall, and stay, asleep.

Suffering from night-time heartburn, even once a week, can cause fatigue, decrease productivity at work, and overall impact to your daily life. This type of heartburn also has been linked to increased snoring.

To manage your night-time heartburn, consider making changes to your diet and lifestyle, such as avoiding eating before bed or sleeping with your upper body slightly elevated.2

Antacids like TUMS work quickly to bring you heartburn relief. Keep a bottle beside your bed, so you can get back to sleep faster. Take medication at night in an upright position, before lying down to resume sleep. If your night-time heartburn doesnt improve, you may want to talk to your doctor about Nexium 24HR , a proton pump inhibitor that requires only one pill for all day and night relief.3


  • Fries, Wendy C. “28 Tips for Nighttime Heartburn Relief.” WebMD. N.p., n.d. Web. .
  • The Reason Your Heartburn Is Worse At Night

    Dealing with Acidity At Night

    Whether after eating food with tomato sauce or wearing tight pants, you dread that unpleasant burning sensation in your chest. If youâre suffering from heartburn, youâre not alone. According to the American College of Gastroenterology, more than 60 million Americans have heartburn at least once a month, and 15 million experience it every day. Elderly people and pregnant women are more likely to experience symptoms of heartburn.

    Heartburn, or acid reflux , occurs when liquids in the stomach flow back into the esophagus. This happens when the lower esophageal sphincter , the muscle between the esophagus and the stomach, relaxes. During eating, the LES relaxes to let food into the stomach and contracts to prevent backflow into the esophagus. Even in people who donât experience acid reflux, stomach acid may travel into the esophagus for brief periods without symptoms.

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    What Causes Heartburn At Night

    Heartburn at night is often caused by lying down too soon after eating or drinking. Lying down can prevent food particles and liquids from moving easily down the esophagus and into the stomach and can also cause stomach acid to flow up into the esophagus, provoking heartburn symptoms. While the lining of the stomach is designed to withstand the acids that break down food before it moves through the gastrointestinal tract, the esophagus is not protected from acid in the same way. For these reasons, try to sit up or stand for three hours after eating to help reduce heartburn symptoms.

    Its important to remember that heartburn can be triggered by a variety of additional factors such as eating particular foods, stress, or smoking. Learn more about the causes of heartburn in general.

    Sleep Tips For Heartburn

      Most people have their worst heartburn at night. That’s because heartburn has a lot to do with gravity. When you’re in bed and lying down, gravity isn’t working in your favor.

      Here’s how the problem starts. When you swallow foods and drinks, they flow through your esophagus down to your stomach. Think of the point where the esophagus and stomach meet as a gate made of a circular ring of muscle. This is the lower esophageal sphincter . It opens to let food and drink pass through. As soon as they do, the gate closes.

      Gastric juices made in your stomach to digest food are meant to stay there. If they escape back through the LES gate, they irritate the esophagus. You then experience heartburn.

      The reason heartburn is worse at night is that the LES has to work against gravity. When you are lying flat, especially if you have food in your stomach, all those gastric juices are knocking at the gate.

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      Taking Antacids During Heartburn Attacks

      Antacids are very effective for heartburn that you may have before bed. It can also be used for those heartburn attacks that wake you up at night if the heartburn comes back. Unfortunately, this is quite possible. Taking H2 blockers before bed takes 30 to 90 minutes to work, and the effects usually last for a few hours. Symptoms may improve for up to 24 hours after taking the medicine.Another option is to combine the two. Antacids will provide the quick relief you need, and may last until the H2 blockers kick in.

      If you continue to experience frequent heartburn symptoms at night, even after trying to narrow the cause, talk with your healthcare provider. He or she will be able to diagnose whether you have only occasional heartburn, or a more serious condition such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, ulcers, or hiatal hernia. You will be able to discuss different treatment options, including medications such as proton pump inhibitors, with your healthcare provider.

      Lifestyle Tips For Nighttime Heartburn Relief

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    • Steer clear of tight clothes. Tight belts, waistbands, and pantyhose can press on your stomach, triggering heartburn.
    • Strive for a less stressful life. Stress may increase stomach acids, boosting heartburn symptoms.
    • Heavy? Try losing weight. The pressure of excess weight increases the chance stomach acid will backup into the esophagus.
    • Popping antacids more than once a week? You may have GERD, not heartburn, and need more aggressive treatment.
    • Try chewing gum at night. This can boost the production of saliva, which neutralizes stomach acid.
    • Not all “trigger” foods cause GERD symptoms in everyone. Keep track of your symptoms to find your personal triggers.
    • Pregnant? You may experience heartburn or GERD. Talk to your doctor about finding relief.
    • Heartburn worse after exercise? Drink plenty of water. It helps with hydration and digestion.
    • Untreated GERD can radically increase your risk of esophageal cancer. But reflux can be managed. Talk with your doctor.
    • Try keeping a diary or heartburn log to keep track of activities that might trigger incidents.
    • A full tummy can mean a night full of heartburn pain. Wait at least 2-3 hours after you eat before going to bed.
    • Wait for your workout. Don’t want to trigger heartburn? Wait at least two hours after a meal before exercising.
    • Nicotine can cause your esophageal sphincter to relax. If you smoke, kick the habit.
    • Some medicines can worsen reflux. Talk with your doctor about alternatives.
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      What Causes Heartburn And What Does It Feel Like Exactly

      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:

      • Overeating or eating too quickly
      • Lying down too soon after eating
      • Consuming certain foods, including caffeine, carbonated beverages, alcohol, peppermint, citrus, tomato-based products, chocolate and fatty or spicy foods
      • Being overweight
      • Stress and anxiety

      Ways To Quell The Fire Of Heartburn

      Heartburn is a common problem. It’s caused by the backwash of stomach acid into the esophagus, the tube connecting the mouth and stomach. This is formally called gastroesophageal reflux disease . More than just a minor discomfort, heartburn can significantly reduce quality of life. “Heartburn can cause damage to the esophagus and even increase the risk of cancer if ignored and untreated,” says Dr. William Kormos, editor in chief of Harvard Men’s Health Watch and a primary care physician at Massachusetts General Hospital.

      These eight steps can help ease heartburn.

    • Eat in a heartburn-smart way. Large meals put pressure on the muscle that normally helps keep stomach contents from backing up into the esophagus. The more you eat, the longer it takes for the stomach to empty, which contributes to reflux. Try smaller, more frequent meals and don’t wolf down your food.
    • Avoid late-night eating. Having a meal or snack within three hours of lying down to sleep can worsen reflux, causing heartburn. Leave enough time for the stomach to clear out.
    • Don’t exercise right after meals. Give your stomach time to empty wait a couple of hours. But don’t just lie down either, which will worsen reflux.
    • Identify and avoid foods associated with heartburn. Common offenders include fatty foods, spicy foods, tomatoes, garlic, milk, coffee, tea, cola, peppermint, and chocolate. Carbonated beverages cause belching, which also causes reflux.
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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.

      Heartburn At Night: Causes And Treatment

      Dealing with Acidity At Night

      Some people associate big meals, like Thanksgiving dinner, with easily dozing off to sleep.

      Yet for many, big meals make sleep very difficult because they experience heartburn.

      This uncomfortable burning sensation in the heart or throat is often nothing to worry about.

      Still, when experienced at night, it can lead to poor sleep and the negative effects of inadequate or disrupted rest the next day.

      And in some instances, heartburn at night can be a sign of gastrointestinal reflux disease , which can damage the esophagus.

      To help you determine if your heartburn at night is a concern, in this article, Ill discuss what heartburn is.

      Then Ill dive into nighttime heartburn, detailing the symptoms, causes, and treatments.

      Ill also explain how to tell if you have GERD and when to see a doctor about your heartburn symptoms.

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      What Is The Quickest Way To Get Rid Of Heartburn

      Taking antacids is considered the quickest way to get rid of heartburn. These over-the-counter medications help neutralize stomach acid. They are one of the first recommended treatments. They may provide quick relief. However, antacid overuse can cause problems such as diarrhea or chronic kidney disease, especially if they contain aluminum and magnesium.

      Other common ways to get rid of heartburn include

      • H2 receptor blockers: These medications work to reduce the amount of acid that is made in the stomach. While they do not work as quickly as antacids, they provide longer relief for up to 12 hours. Examples of these include Pepcid AC, Tagamet HB, Zantac and Axid AR. Although most people have no problems taking them, long-term use can cause vitamin B12 deficiency leading to an increased risk of bone fractures.
      • Proton pump inhibitors: This class of medications block acid production. They also help to heal any damage caused to the lining of the esophagus. They are much stronger than the H2 receptor blockers and include Prevacid, Prilosec, Protonix and Zegerid. Excessive use of these medications can cause diarrhea and nausea, vitamin B12 deficiency and an increased risk of bone fractures.
      • Baclofen: This medication works to strengthen the muscular valve present at the lower esophageal sphincter muscle. However, it may cause nausea and fatigue in some people.
      • Surgical procedures: In rare cases, these are required to help with severe heartburn symptoms.

      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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      Tests And Surgery For Heartburn And Acid Reflux

      If medicines do not help or your symptoms are severe, a GP may refer you to a specialist for:

      • tests to find out what’s causing your symptoms, such as a gastroscopy
      • an operation on your stomach to stop acid reflux called a laparoscopic fundoplication

      Page last reviewed: 09 September 2020 Next review due: 09 September 2023

      Know Your Medication Side Effects

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      Certain medications may contribute to GERD. Some common ones include:

      If these or other medications are causing acid reflux or other symptoms, tell your doctor. Alternative treatments may be available.

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      Make Lunch Your Biggest Meal Of The Day

      Eating a big meal can put pressure on your stomach and allow acid to travel back up into your esophagusand that will only be compounded if you lie down soon afterward. To prevent a major case of acid reflux at night, Huber recommends eating a heavier lunch and a lighter dinner. I’ve started to spend a few hours on Sunday meal prep so that I can get more substantial lunches ready for the week.

      Resist The Urge To Overeat Or Eat Quickly

      When it comes to preventing heartburn, watching portion sizes at meals can go a long way. Having a large amount of food in your stomach may put more pressure on the valve that keeps stomach acid out of your esophagus, making acid reflux and heartburn more likely. If you’re prone to heartburn, consider eating smaller meals more frequently. Eating quickly can also be a trigger of heartburn so be sure to slow down and take time to chew food and drink beverages.

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      How To Treat Nighttime Acid Reflux

      If youre having trouble getting to sleep at night because of your acid reflux, youre not alone more than 50 million Americans reportedly suffer from more than 80 different sleep disorders. Fortunately, when you alleviate reflux during the night, it can lessen the severity of your daytime symptoms and minimize the chance that you experience associated health problems in the future. Your esophagus has a chance to heal with several hours free of acid and youre more likely to get the quality sleep that you need. With that being said, here are some of the available options for treating nighttime acid reflux.

      Medications That Minimize Nighttime Acid Reflux

      How To Deal With Night

      Antacids such as Rolaids® or Tums® typically don’t work for acid reflux. “They neutralize the acid in your stomach, but they’re not the greatest for treating nocturnal heartburn,” says Frank Gress, MD, chief of the Gastroenterology Division at SUNY-Downstate Medical Center in New York City. “Nowadays, there are over-the-counter acid suppression medications that effectively stop the acid and the heartburn.”

      Here’s what he recommends instead:

      H2 Blockers, such asZantac®, Pepcid®, and Tagamet®. These medications, available over the counter in low doses, work to reduce the amount of acid production in the stomach.

      Usually taken with the first meal of the day, people often take these medications before bed, too.

      Proton Pump Inhibitors , such as Prilosec®, Prevacid®, and Nexium®. These medications are usually taken 30 minutes before a meal. They also reduce acid production in the stomach, and help repair damage to the lower esophagus.

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