Acid Reflux Often Strikes a Person As They Try to Sleep

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Almost everyone has felt it before. Perhaps they’ve eaten some really spicy foods or a meal that was much larger than it should have been.

The result, that burning sensation in the esophagus as stomach acid heads higher than it ever should. This is acid reflux. Some people refer to it as heartburn. Heartburn is a symptom. Acid reflux is the condition where heartburn is happening regularly to the body. 

From a more technical perspective, acid reflux is due to weakness in the lower esophageal sphincter. Typically, once food goes past it into the stomach, it closes. If it doesn’t do this, or is constantly opening, then it’s possible that stomach acid is going to come right back up. This can be especially common based on certain triggers and in the evening when people are trying to get to sleep.

Risk Factors of Acid Reflux

Every person is different. This means that acid reflux can be caused in different ways. There are physical issues like a hiatal hernia which has the stomach move above the diaphragm, which switches the direction that stomach acid can be pushed. However, it isn’t just a physical issue that can cause acid reflux. People with these risk factors are far more likely to deal with it: 

  • Late Eating - People who lay down too early after a meal, whether to sleep at night, for a nap or another reason are at high risk for acid reflux. Late night snacks can be a problem as well. 
  • Obesity - People who are overweight are more likely to deal with acid reflux than others. 
  • Post Meal Body Positioning - Much like how lying down after a big meal raises the chance of acid reflux, bending at the waist and some other movements can also increase the chance. 
  • Foods and Beverage Consumption - There are a wide variety of different foods and drinks which can increase the chances of acid reflux. Many foods that are high in acid can be an issue. The same can be said of some fatty and spicy foods. Some common food based causes include tomatoes, citrus fruit, mint, chocolate, onions and garlic. When it comes to beverages, beer, alcohol, coffee, tea and soda can all be a problem. 
  • Smoking - Smoking increases the chances of acid reflux, which is obviously just one of the many different health issues smoking can cause. 
  • Medications - There’s several over the counter medications like pain relievers which cause acid reflux. Some blood pressure meds may also cause the same. 

Preventing and Treating Acid Reflux

Unsurprisingly, a lot of preventing acid reflux is about reducing the potential for risk factors to play a role. This can mean eating meals earlier and ensuring that they aren’t quite so large. Eating smaller, more common meals can be an option. Sleep changes can be made as well. Raising the head during sleep at night will help, and avoiding napping in a bed during the day will be useful as well. 

Medically, people need to try to improve their overall health. People who are obese should try to get to a healthy weight and ensure they are eating healthy. Quitting smoking is a must for all kinds of health based reasons. It’s possible that medications might need to be changed, which means speaking with a doctor to determine if the cause may be medically related. 

Once acid reflux has arrived, many people turn to over the counter options to try to neutralize the excess acid that has pushed into the esophagus. If these don’t help, then it’s likely a doctor will turn to prescription options instead. Truly severe cases might require surgical fixes that create an artificial valve using parts of the top of the stomach.