Of the nearly one million Houstonians who suffer from acid reflux, more than 50 percent report experiencing having heartburn at night several times a week. A bitter taste in the mouth, a hoarse voice, sore throat, fatigue…if you wake up in the morning with some of these symptoms you may be suffering from nighttime acid reflux.
Nighttime acid reflux can be more severe than daytime reflux. When you are in an upright position, gravity helps the esophagus clear the refluxed material back to the stomach. When you are laying down acid tends to stay longer in the esophagus causing more damage. As a result, nighttime heartburn sufferers are nearly 11 times more likely to develop cancer of the esophagus according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
In addition to health risks, like cancer, respiratory infections, and esophageal inflammation, 75 percent of nighttime heartburn patients report sleep deprivation. They are either unable to sleep or wake up during sleep with burning pain in the chest. Many Houston area residents are unable to work effectively the next day because of nighttime heartburn.
Houston Heartburn and Reflux Center offers the following recommendations to alleviate nighttime heartburn:
- Eat early and light: have dinner at least 3 hours before going to bed. Avoid large meals and avoid snacking close to bedtime
- Avoid drinks that can trigger reflux like coffee, tea, alcohol, and carbonated beverages
- Avoid foods that can trigger reflux like tomato sauce, pepper, mint, mustard, chocolate, greasy food like French fries and cheeseburgers
- Keep a food diary of you eat for dinner. Try to avoid those foods that trigger heartburn
- Raise the head of your bed by 6 to 8 inches to reduce acid backflow into your esophagus
- Avoid heavy exercise before bedtime
- Watch your weight. Trimming down your waist may help with acid indigestion
- Quit smoking
- Wear loose pajamas
If your symptoms don’t improve please call Houston Heartburn and Reflux Center and request a consultation. Don’t ignore your symptoms. There may be a sign of severe acid reflux disease.