Nighttime acid reflux or gastro-oesophageal reflux (GERD) also known as heartburn, is characterized by a burning chest pain. Another typical symptom is a sensation of food being regurgitated back into the mouth with a sour, acidic taste. This disorder can also be accompanied by asthmatic breathing, coughing and hoarseness. Occasionally, gastro-oesophageal reflux can mimic the symptoms of a heart attack, and is often mistaken for one, hence the reason for the common heartburn name. This disorder is caused by acid “backing up” into the esophagus during sleep, a condition that can be treated with either medication or natural remedies.
Causes of Nighttime Heartburn
Most people can control heartburn by making a few changes in their lifestyle and habits. It is especially important to cut back on things such as alcohol, chocolate, coffee, fried foods and other items that have a tendency to weaken the seal between the stomach and the esophagus.
You can also ease some of your pain by avoiding foods that irritate an already inflamed esophagus, such as citrus fruits and juices, peppers, spicy foods and tomato sauces. If you are a smoker, you should consider quitting, as it would be the healthiest thing to do at this time. If you are overweight, try shedding a few pounds in order to save yourself a lot of unnecessary pain.
Preventing Nighttime Heartburn
If you tend to get heartburn at night, try raising the head of your bed by four to six inches. One way to do this is to place blocks under the frame at the head end of the bed. This will make physics work for you, as the laws of gravity will help keep acid in your stomach.
For the same reason, you should also wait at least two to three hours after dinner before going to bed and lying down. An additional benefit of this is to help you lose weight as well. If your food is digested, there is nothing to go back into the esophagus.
Nighttime Heartburn Relief
Over the counter antacids such as Rolaids, Tums, or Maalox can provide quick relief from heartburn. You can push off future attacks by taking one of several drug store remedies that slow down the flow of acid, including Tagamet, Zantac, Pepcid, and Axid. If heartburn is a recurring problem, talk to your doctor. He can help you find the remedy that is right for you. You want something that will work long term, not just when it happens. You want to avoid it from happening to begin with.
If your acid attacks are strong, you may need stronger medicine. Your doctor can prescribe higher strength doses of over the counter medicine, or a powerful dose of acid fighters known as proton pump inhibitors. These drugs, including Nexium, Protonix, and many others, shut down acid production in the stomach and can bring dramatic relief.
If medications and lifestyle changes are not enough to control your heartburn, you may need an operation called fundoplication. This operation bolsters the barrier between the stomach and the esophagus. Although this type of surgery is considered as a last resort, it is known to cure up to 90% of cases. The operation can now be performed through a tiny incision. The procedure causes relatively little pain and does not require a long hospital stay.
Other treatments may also be available. Several procedures are being used and researched for the treatment of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD). One of these procedures uses radio waves to tighten the muscular valve between the esophagus and stomach and reduce symptoms of GERD.
Natural Heartburn Remedies
For quick treatment of heartburn or other stomach acid problems, try drinking a glass of milk. You can also eat a piece of bread. This will help either absorb the excess acid or neutralize it. This does not work for everyone, but it may be the quick fix you need to get to sleep.
Another natural remedy for heartburn that works for some people, including me, is to mix a teaspoon of organic apple cider vinegar in a cup of warm water and drink it. Alternatively, eating an apple before going to bed can have the same effect.
Proper treatment of heartburn and other related problems can help you avoid outbreaks in the future. Heartburn when you are trying to sleep can be one of the most unpleasant things, and it can ruin your whole night. You will wake up feeling nauseated, tired, grouchy, and sick, which is not good. Take care of this problem now, and it will save you a lot of pain and loss of sleep in the future.