What is acid reflux?
Acid reflux is commonly known as heartburn and it occurs when there is repeated flow of the stomach contents back to the esophagus. This can occur at any time of the day.
There is a muscle known as esophageal sphincter (LES) is located at the bottom end of the esophagus entering into the stomach.
The main role of the LES is to allow for one way flow of content from the throat to the stomach. The valve opens up when you swallow food to allow it to get into the stomach for it to be digested.
In healthy people, the valve is always closed except during meal time to allow for digestion.
However, there are times when the valve does not close properly leading to the flowback of digestive juices and contents in the stomach rising back to the oesophagus. This causes acidity taste that is accompanied by heartburn.
At what time does the flowback become GERD?
People with a repeated constitution where the symptoms show twice every week are treated with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).
GERD is known to be a prolonged type of acid reflux. It might need a more dynamic therapy compared to people who get heartburn less often.
GERD can have serious effects on sleep causing risk of:
A breathing stomach acid when sleeping
Leading to Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
Waking up regularly from sleep due to discomfort cause by heartburn
The following chronic symptoms may be a sign of a serious problem that maybe caused by eating excess.
Signs of acid reflux
Acid reflux is among medical concerns that may not be evident to some people. For them, it may not be as a result of the normal burning irritation that is felt in the stomach, chest or throat or the acidic taste that is left in the mouth after eating food. To them, they experience problems while swallowing food accompanied by an irritating dry cough, loss of voice repeatedly commonly known as laryngitis and the development of asthma.
Just like other sleeping disorders, acid reflux may not be evident problem. The disorder becomes even more complicated because of its commonness. The disorder affects people of all ages ranging from infants to to the aged and they may not be aware they are suffering.
How reflux affects the quality of sleep
While you are sleeping, stomach reflux can make the contents into the stomach to rise up to the back of the mouth. This is caused by the horizontal position when one is sleeping.
When one is awake and upright, the force of gravity reduces the effect of reflux within the stomach and the mid chest. However, when on is the reclined position, gravity will not push down the stomach juices and contents. If there is a problem with the LES, it can fail to perform its task.
People who experience reflux while sleeping, often have a rude awakening with an acidic and burning sensation at the back of the mouth. To get sleep again, you will need to introduce gravity as you sleep. You can either do it by;
Sitting half upright in a reclined position.
Elevating the upper body by use a wedge pillow.
Adding risers to the head of the bed to raise it by 3 inches
Other tips to use
Use of drugs that counter and neutralize acid.
Sleeping on the left hand side since the right, back and stomach positions leads to more reflux
GERD and sleep apnea
Investigations have shown that there is a relationship between OSA and GERD. one of the studies shows that close to 60 percent of OSA patients also suffer from GERD. in other times, obesity sets in the relationship.
When OSA happens, there are changes within the cavity of the diaphragm and the chest creates a favorable environment for acid reflux.there are thoughts that the episodes of apnea could change the digestive processes in a manner that will change the way LES functions. Apneas lead to respiratory effort when one is sleeping. This can cause a change in pressure within the esophagus which could cause more events for reflux.
It is important to know that OSA therapy by a therapy known as positive airway pressure (PAP) has been shown several times to cure the symptoms of GERD.
To get to know more about the relationship between reflux and the other sleeping disorders, look at an article that was published by National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Don’t assume acid reflux
It will be much sensible to visit a doctor if you are experiencing long termed and continued heartburn problems. This is if you experience it more than once every week or the condition becomes worse and continues with time.
It is of importance that you disclose sleeping disorders you have whether they are diagnosed or not or you have been experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above. Reflux could be among the reasons you cannot find sleep.
A good diagnosis will detect sleep breathing problems that may not have been detected. With the above knowledge, you will be in a position to seek proper treatment so that you will be in a position to sleep well.