Acid Reflux Symptoms at Night

Q: Why are acid reflux symptoms at night worse than during the day?

A: For many people, acid reflux night symptoms are indeed worse. According to a recent national study lead by the teams of Dr. Ronnie Fass (University of Arizona) and Dr. Bonnie Dean (LifeSciences), sleep problems are much more frequent for those with acid reflux disease. Reportedly only 19.4% of people without the disease suffer from sleep impairment, meanwhile 41.9% of those with gastroesophageal reflux have sleep impairment – over double the rate of normal!

Some of the most frequently complained about symptoms during the night include:

Heartburn: It’s bad enough to suffer heartburn during the day, but at bedtime it can be especially bothersome. When you are lying flat, gravity makes it easier for your stomach acid to flow through the lower esophageal sphincter and up into your esophagus.

Regurgitation: During the day, this is a symptom we are well aware of. However, if you are sound asleep, the regurgitation of acid may go unnoticed. As you can guess, this can be particularly irritating, because the acid is more likely to sit there if the person is asleep and not aware of it.

Coughing: Coughs tend to get worse at night, regardless of their cause. This is because the throat and respiratory tissues have been prone to irritation all day long, so by the time night comes around, it usually won’t take much to trigger a coughing attack. When it comes to acid reflux disease, for many sufferers that acid in the esophagus can irritate it to the point that it causes coughing, which unfortunately may get worse at bedtime.

Acid reflux symptoms night or day, it doesn’t matter… they shouldn’t be ignored. Here are five important things you should discuss with your doctor:

(1) Have a consultation: As with any medical problem, it’s important to speak with a doctor. Only he or she can advise you on treatment.

(2) Elevate your head at night: In order to combat gravity, many use a triangle pillow wedge or something similar to raise their head and chest during sleep. This is a simple way to help combat acid reflux night symptoms.

(3) Don’t eat before bed: It is often recommended to not eat for at least two or three hours before bedtime (unless medically necessary for blood sugar issues, etc).

(4) Acid reflux diet: Although foods aren’t considered to be the root cause of acid reflux, it is well known that there are certain foods that can trigger symptoms and make them significantly worse. This is why you should ask about a diet for acid reflux. For many, it can help tremendously.

(5) Medication: Most heartburn medications are now available over the counter now, some can even help relieve acid reflux symptoms for a full 24 hours.