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Why Do I Get Such Bad Heartburn At Night

Why Does The Sphincter Weaken

GERD, heartburn, acid reflux remedies

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.

When Should You Talk To Your Doctor About Heartburn

Have a conversation with your doctor as soon as you start noticing heartburn symptoms that recur often, since they may indicate youre experiencing GERD or another disorder. If youre unable to manage your symptoms with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medication, talk to your doctor about the next steps. If you are experiencing pain in your chest, seek medical intervention immediately to rule out any other illnesses.

Do I Need To Visit My Doctor About My Heartburn

If youre experiencing heartburn every once in a while, youre probably ok to go without a visit to Cary Gastroenterology. There are over the counter medications you can take that should give you relief pretty quickly. Over the counter medications are not intended for long term use and, should you find yourself taking them frequently, you should do so under the supervision of a physician. If you start to notice that youre experiencing the pain more often or that its getting increasingly more uncomfortable, make an appointment to come see us. There are a number of things we can recommend that dont require medication, including weight loss, an adjustment in diet and exercise, changes in medications, and even different sleeping positions.

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Tip 1 For Nighttime Heartburn Relief: Elevate Head And Chest

For people who sleep on their back, heartburn symptoms may occur if stomach acid leaks from the stomach back into the esophagus as they lay down. In these cases, one can try to reduce their symptoms by using gravity and elevating the head and chest higher than the lower abdomen.

Using specifically designed wedge pillows is one way to keep the upper body more upright during the night. Alternatively, you can try raising the upper half of the bed slightly by safely placing cinder blocks, bricks, or wood beams under the head of the bed.

What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Gerd

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Often, people who have GERD notice that they regularly have the pain of heartburn in the chest or stomach. This can last up to a couple of hours. Many notice their heartburn is worse after eating.

Regurgitation when food and liquid containing stomach acid comes back up into the throat or mouth is also a sign of GERD. But, like heartburn, occasional regurgitation is common for everyone.

Other symptoms of GERD include:

  • a sore, raw throat or hoarse voice
  • a frequent sour taste of acid, especially when lying down
  • a feeling of burping acid into the mouth
  • trouble swallowing

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The Reason Your Heartburn Is Worse 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.

What Kinds Of Complications Are Caused By Frequent Heartburn

  • Excess stomach acid in the esophagus can cause ulcers, damage to the inner layers of the esophageal wall, and narrowing .
  • Very rarely, the esophagus may bleed or tear completely because it is so damaged. In severe cases, a person may vomit blood or have small amounts of blood in bowel movements, found only on testing the stool.
  • Regurgitated stomach acid can damage the respiratory tract, causing asthma, hoarseness, chronic cough, sore throat, or tooth damage . A person may feel as if he or she has a lump in the throat.
  • If the acid exposure continues for long periods of time, the esophagus becomes thick and damaged. A person may then have difficulty swallowing and food becomes stuck.

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Serious Side Effects Of Heartburn

Even if its not a heart attack, heartburn can be serious. Dangerous side effects and complications can result if you dont seek treatment. Some common side effects include:

  • Awaking from sleep, especially if youve eaten within two hours of going to bed
  • Esophageal cancer: if Barretts esophagus is not treated
  • Esophagus erosion: scarring, ulcers and narrowing of the tube
  • Barretts esophagus: precancerous condition from chronic acid reflux
  • Esophageal strictures and dysphagia: swallowing difficulties due to esophagus damage

Check If You Have A Hiatus Hernia

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You can have a hiatus hernia without knowing and without it being a problem.

With a hiatus hernia you may:

  • have a painful burning feeling in your chest, often after eating
  • bring up small amounts of food or bitter-tasting fluids
  • have bad breath

These are the symptoms of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease .

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Does Acid Reflux Develop Suddenly

Pam from Houston Sent us this question: These acid reflux symptoms came over me suddenly. I am slim and eat very healthy. Never have digestion issues.

I am seeing a Chiropractor for adjustments for a spinal compression injury, which has finally taken its toll . Sciatica/Piriformis pain.

Two nights ago, pain was so relentless I took severe measures: stacking pillows high under my ankles to butt, with head lying down lower on a small neck pillow.

Next day: Sour taste in mouth, burning, nauseated feeling from throat to stomach and sharp pain from middle of back to stomach. Swallowing difficulty. Just feel like I need to throw up.

Dear Pam:

Acid reflux is a chronic and progressive disease. GERD symptoms start mild and barely noticeable. Initially, you may feel some heartburn after a heavy or spicy meal. You may experience occasional food regurgitation when bending over or when sleeping at night. With time, however, symptoms like heartburn, cough, sore throat and food regurgitation increase in intensity and frequency. GERD symptoms become independent of food intake. At this stage, you may develop heartburn just by drinking water or without eating anything.

Other Causes Of Morning Heartburn

Although GERD is a common reason for heartburn in the morning, there are other reasons that someone can experience heartburn during this time. Some factors include your activities the night before and lifestyle habits. Other factors include:

  • Having a high stress level
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Wearing tight clothes and belts
  • Pregnancy
  • Acidic foods like tomatoes and citrus
  • Onions
  • Alcoholic beverages

Your healthcare provider can help you create a list of foods to remove and incorporate into your diet that will help treat your GERD symptoms. It is important to work with your healthcare provider, continuing to take your medicineif prescribedand following a plan that will help you have the best outcome regarding your condition.

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Remedy For Heartburn At Middle Of The Night

Sleep with head elevated: Sleeping with the head elevated can decrease the heartburn at night as there is less chance of regurgitation of acids while sleeping.

Avoid the triggering foods at night: Heartburn at night worsens if you take certain triggering foods at night. Alcohol, spicy and oily foods, caffeinated drinks like coffee, milk tea can provocate the heartburn at night. SO its better to avoid such foods at night.

Avoid tight clothings: Wear loose fitting clothings than tight one at night which will help to some extent to lower the heartburn symptoms at night.

Avoid late night heavy meals: Keep at least time of 2-3 hours after having dinner for your sleep. Avoid having heavy meals.

Reduce your weight: obese individuals are more likely to have heartburn symptoms. So try to reduce your weight.

Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated: Water can some extent help to reduce the heartburn symptoms. A glass of lukewarm water may help for providing a temporary relief.

OTC antacids: If you are taking any antacid gels for the heartburn relief you can take one that helps to relief the symptom temporarily.

Why Is Nighttime Heartburn More Dangerous

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Day or night, chronic reflux can gradually damage the esophagus. It may lead to inflammation and scar tissue that narrows the esophagus. In some people, chronic heartburn can lead to Barrett’s esophagus, changes in the cells that increase the risk of esophageal cancer.

But nighttime heartburn tends to leave acid in the esophagus longer, and therefore may cause more damage than daytime heartburn.

“A good part of the explanation is gravity,” says Lawrence J. Cheskin, MD, co-author of Healing Heartburn and associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Md. During the day, acids from the stomach may briefly force their way into your esophagus. But gravity quickly pulls them back down to the stomach.

When you’re lying down, gravity isn’t pulling in the right direction. Instead, the stomach contents are pressing on the sphincter muscle that connects the esophagus to the stomach. In people with GERD – which means nearly everyone with chronic heartburn – the sphincter is faulty. It doesn’t fully close. So acids can reflux back up into the esophagus. And because you’re lying down, once acids get into the esophagus, they can sit there for much longer than during the day. That can increase the damage.

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Why You Should Never Ignore Gerd

After several years, untreated GERD erodes the lining of the esophagus, and as a protective mechanism, the esophagus starts to create a new lining with cells that resemble the makeup of the intestine. At this stage, GERD has progressed into a precancerous condition known as Barrett’s esophagus, bringing with it a 30-fold increased risk of eventually developing esophageal cancer.

Esophageal cancer is deadly — only about 15% of people are still alive five years after being diagnosed, according to the American Cancer Society. And it’s more common among individuals who have long suffered from GERD that is not properly treated.

According to a study published in TheNew England Journal of Medicine, cancer of the esophagus was nearly eight times as likely among people who suffered from heartburn at least once a week, and almost 44 times as likely in those who had severe, frequent heartburn for more than 20 years. Almost all of these people had only sporadic treatment for GERD, not long-term treatment.

If you have GERD, and you are having any of these symptoms, tell your doctor right away:

  • If difficulty swallowing or a feeling like food is trapped behind the breastbone becomes a new symptom of your GERD.
  • If you vomit blood or have black, tarry bowel movements.
  • If you have the sensation of acid reflux into the windpipe causing shortness of breath, coughing, or hoarseness.
  • If you lose weight unexpectedly or without trying.

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Gerd: A Symptom Checklist

“When you see your doctor, talking through your symptoms is nearly as accurate in diagnosing GERD as the tests we have,” Richter says. “Are the classic symptoms there? If the answer to that question is yes, it’s probably GERD.”

What are those classic symptoms? Here’s a checklist that will help you gauge your reflux troubles:

  • Do you suffer from heartburn symptoms more than two or three times a week?
  • Do the symptoms feel like a burning under your breastbone?
  • Do your symptoms often get worse after eating?
  • Are you taking antacids after every meal to minimize symptoms? Do they help?
  • Do you feel a burning chest pain when exercising?
  • Are your symptoms worse when you lie down?
  • Do you often taste a faint sense of acid in your mouth?
  • Do you have trouble sleeping at night?
  • Do you have asthma that is made worse when you’re having heartburn?
  • Does your voice get scratchy when you have heartburn?
  • Is heartburn interfering with your quality of life?

Answering yes to one or more of these questions might mean you have GERD. Make an appointment to see your doctor.

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How Does Heartburn Impact Sleep

Research shows that over 60% of people suffering from heartburn or another reflux-related disease report disruptions in their sleep. People with heartburn symptoms are often unable to comfortably fall into a sleep state or are unable to stay asleep due to the painful, burning sensation in their chest.

40% of people with heartburn and sleep issues report that their sleep disruption directly impacts their overall functioning the following day. Heartburn may cause a cycle of poor sleep in which heartburn disrupts sleep, which increases fatigue. Fatigue increases unhealthy eating choices. These foods further increase heartburn symptoms, which increases stress and leads to even poorer sleep.

Once youre in the cycle of heartburn-related poor sleep, it can feel overwhelming. However, there are many ways you can reduce heartburn with small, daily lifestyle changes.

Treatments For Stomach Pain

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Treatments for stomach pain will depend completely on the cause and diagnosis. Non-serious causes like acid reflux or overeating can be relieved with over-the-counter antacids, while gas pains and cramping can be relieved by either belching, passing gas, and getting rest.

More serious causes will need to receive recommendations from your doctor. They might prescribe a change in diet or lifestyle, additional medications, physical therapy, or surgery, as needed.

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Why Do I Get Heartburn When I Havent Eaten

If you visit a doctor to talk about your heartburn, one of the first things they will ask is your diet.

As most people know and what we constantly mention, heartburn is often caused by what you eat and what you drink, so your doctor wants to be sure you are eating a diet that wont provoke any additional symptoms before moving into treatment options.

If youre getting heartburn without eating anything, here are some of the reasons:

What Are My Options If These Treatments Dont Work

If a person continues to have heartburn, a health care professional may recommend adding a drug such as metoclopramide . This drug empties food and acid quickly from the stomach so less can back up into the esophagus. Reglan also helps tighten the lower esophageal sphincter.

If a person still have symptoms, a health care professional will then recommend one of the drugs called proton pump inhibitors. Examples of these drugs are omeprazole , lansoprazole , esomeprazole , rabeprazole , and pantoprazole . These tablets prevent the stomach from secreting acid. They are very effective and are typically taken only once a day. These drugs usually are prescribed if other drugs have not helped. They may have to be used indefinitely.

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What Are Prescription Medications For Heartburn

If over-the-counter antacids and acid blockers do not relieve your heartburn, your healthcare provider may give you a prescription for other medicines, such as:

  • Prescription-strength acid blockers: In prescription-strength , Zantac®, Tagamet®, Pepcid® and Axid® can generally relieve heartburn and treat GERD.
  • Proton pump inhibitors: These are drugs that block acid production more effectively. Proton pump inhibitors include Aciphex®, Nexium®, Prevacid®, Prilosec® and Protonix®.

There are some proton pump inhibitors that can be purchased over-the-counter. Talk to your healthcare provider about these medications and what is best for you.

What Causes Acid Reflux At Night

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Acid reflux happens when the muscles at the lower part of the esophagus , which stop food from leaving the stomach, become weak or relaxed. However, gravity and anatomy play a massive role in the occurrence of nocturnal GERD symptoms.

During the day, you are more likely to be uprightstanding or sitting up. So when stomach acid escapes, gravity and saliva quickly return the content to the stomach. Youre also more likely to manage GERD symptoms by staying upright, swallowing saliva, or taking antacids when youre awake.

Plus, when upright, your esophagus naturally flows down into your stomach. This quick return of acid to your stomach typically makes your symptoms shorter and minimizes the potential harm acid can cause to the delicate lining of your esophagus.

Evidence shows that acid reflux usually happens in the first two or three hours of sleep. It usually occurs when a person lays down soon after consuming heavy meals. Studies suggest that those with GERD are more likely to experience acid reflux when they consume heavy meals late at night .

  • Pregnancy
  • Taking drugs that affect the functioning of the esophagus like anticholinergic drugs and anti-inflammatory drugs
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