Gastroesophageal reflux is included as one of the triggers for diseases associated with the digestive tract. What happens is that when food is deposited in the stomach, it frequently returns to the esophagus, thus generating exposure to stomach acid substances in the esophagus, producing the so-called heartburn or heartburn and sometimes pain.
This situation can become persistent and can be diagnosed as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. When gastroesophageal reflux occurs at night, the person tends to have several complications, including insomnia. At FastlyHealwe will explain the symptoms, causes, treatment and remedies of nocturnal gastric reflux .
Causes and symptoms of nocturnal gastric reflux
Gastroesophageal reflux is a frequent and common condition worldwide and, in addition, nocturnal discomforts cause annoying symptoms that interfere with the time or period of rest. Between the esophagus and the stomach is a valve called the lower esophageal sphincter , this is responsible for controlling the entry of all food into the stomach and in turn prevents its return to the esophagus even when we are lying down.
Generally, reflux becomes a silent disease for a long time, not all reflux is capable of reaching the mouth, many remain in the esophagus and produce a sensation of heartburn only, this can occur when the person eats a lot and irritates the stomach increasing its internal pressure.
The lower esophageal sphincter may present some failure in its optimal functioning (weakening of the valve) generating gastric reflux at night when the body is relaxed, which also implies the relaxation of this valve. Also, this occurs when:
- You eat a lot , as this causes the stomach to dilate, the sphincter will have difficulty closing properly, this means that the distention in the gastric chamber shortens the diameter of the esophageal sphincter and this is able to overcome the pressure of the valve.
- Some substances can interfere with the normal activity of the sphincter, such as smoking cigarettes, drinking soft drinks and some alcoholic beverages.
- Obese or overweight people are also prone to nocturnal gastric reflux due to the pressure exerted on the stomach.
- Finally, the most common cause related to gastroesophageal reflux is hiatal hernia or hiatal hernia (protrusion of a small portion of the stomach through the opening of the diaphragm into the chest).
Ultimately, pregnancy is also related as a predisposing factor to nocturnal gastric reflux due to the mechanical and hormonal alterations typical of the gestation stage.
Regarding the signs of this condition, we can say that the most common symptoms of nocturnal gastric reflux are:
- Heartburn or heartburn: usually occurs when lying down after eating, causing the acids to ascend into the esophagus.
- Regurgitations: this is nothing more than the return of the food bolus (sour and bitter) to the mouth.
- Hoarseness or dysphonia: also caused by the return of food content.
- Cough attack: product of gastric acid that is returned to the esophagus and mouth.
- Sore throat: no other apparent causes or signs of infection.
What to do if you have nocturnal gastric reflux – the treatment
In the presence of gastroesophageal reflux at night and all the complications that it entails, a medical visit is recommended , since the specialist is the one who will indicate some paraclinics, in addition to an endoscopy (a method with which the presence of a hiatal hernia can be determined, a biopsy sample to rule out stomach and esophageal pathologies and finally classify esophagitis); It is also recommended to follow these tips for the treatment of nocturnal gastric reflux :
- Sleeping on the left side : acidity and reflux improve considerably taking into account the anatomy of the stomach, when lying on the left side the gastric chamber will hang down and liquids and food will accumulate in the greater curvature, moving away more from the esophageal sphincter preventing its content from returning to the esophagus and mouth.
- Avoid eating close to bedtime: in this case it is recommended that the last meal be approximately 3 hours before sleeping so that the stomach contains less acids and is most likely already empty.
- Avoid tight clothing at bedtime: comfortable and loose clothing is recommended so that there is no pressure on the stomach area and that may worsen the symptoms that occur.
- Reduce the amount of food at dinner: a light dinner with reduced amounts of fat is recommended.
- Sleep with your head higher: this implies encouraging the use of pillows so that the head is above the level of the stomach, otherwise it would be possible for the sphincter to open and food and acids ascend to the esophagus and mouth .
- Stop smoking and drinking alcohol: as one of the causes is the intake of alcoholic beverages or soft drinks and also the habit of smoking, it is recommended to reduce its consumption to avoid damage to the stomach lining as well as the affection of the esophageal valve.
- Avoid foods that make reflux worse: such as fried, made with a lot of spices, or hot. Likewise, do not eat citrus foods, such as lemon or orange, or others such as chocolate and tomato.
- Do not eat and drink at the same time: the intake of liquids should not be at the same time as the meal, it is recommended to drink liquids half an hour before the meal and half an hour after it.
- Control your weight: finally it is recommended to maintain an optimal weight, the accumulation of fat in the abdomen allows greater pressure on the stomach and consequently on the esophageal sphincter.
Obviously, the treatment of nocturnal gastric reflux will depend on its degree, which ranges from the mildest (which can be treated with lifestyle modifications) to the most complicated (requiring surgical intervention). All treatments must be indicated by a doctor who has made a prior assessment of the situation.
The use of medications begins once the person has modified their lifestyle and this has not brought beneficial effects or not enough, using drugs called proton pump inhibitors capable of reducing the acid secretion produced by the stomach.
Finally, before starting therapy with natural remedies for nocturnal gastroesophageal reflux, it is recommended to reduce or replace from the diet all the foods that favor it within those that prevail:
- Butter and margarine.
- Cream and creams.
- Fried food.
- Junk or junk food.
Natural remedies for nighttime gastric reflux
Regarding remedies that you can do at home, apart from following the previous indications, we recommend that you choose among the most effective natural remedies for nocturnal gastric reflux , which are the following:
Among the properties of aloe vera, it has high anti-inflammatory power that helps reduce the symptoms of gastric reflux. Half a cup of aloe vera juice before meals prevents all symptoms.
Consult more about this natural remedy in this other FastlyHealarticle about Aloe vera to combat heartburn .
One of the most widely used folk remedies to relieve gastric reflux is apple cider vinegar. Dilute a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water and drink it as soon as the first symptoms of reflux appear, it will considerably improve heartburn.
It has a powerful effect of lowering pH levels in the body, regulating stomach acids when taken. Sodium bicarbonate is an easy to ingest natural remedy, 1 teaspoon diluted in 1 large glass of water is enough.
Finally, within natural therapy it is important to also use these other remedies :
- Eat raw almonds capable of balancing the pH of the stomach.
- At the beginning of the day it is recommended to drink a glass of warm water and the juice of half a lemon. This is recommended before consuming any food.
- If possible, it is recommended to eat a red apple after heavy meals.
- Chamomile tea is also widely used to control symptoms and gastric reflux.
At FastlyHealwe recommend you maintain a healthy life, this is essential for every human being. It is also crucial to take care of what you eat to ensure you have a healthy stomach. It is advisable to go to the doctor immediately, symptoms appear and comply with all the guidelines proposed by the specialist.
Can nocturnal gastric reflux have complications?
In addition to insomnia , constant exposure to stomach acid in the esophagus can lead to complications. Some of the possible complications of nocturnal gastric reflux are:
- First, ulcers can appear in the esophagus , this is the result of the erosion that gastric acid makes in the esophagus.
- On the other hand, esophageal inflammation can be generated, in turn producing edema in the area, making it difficult for food to pass through. Patients usually refer as a feeling of obstruction or feeling something stuck in the throat .
- Finally, the most important complication is the so-called Barret’s esophagus, where the interior of the esophagus is affected by modifying its lining to one similar to that of the small intestine. It occurs as a result of irritation in the esophageal lining.
This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.
If you want to read more articles similar to Nocturnal gastric reflux: symptoms, causes, treatment and remedies , we recommend that you enter our Digestive System category .
I am a Surgeon with a diploma in comprehensive ultrasound and surgical care residency, an area I am specializing in. During the exercise of my profession, I have realized the need for patients to know the diseases they suffer, and I can tell you that a large part of their complications is due to a lack of information. Being a health web writer allows me to transmit my experience, without borders, to all those readers eager for knowledge, educate them in the prevention of diseases and promote a healthy lifestyle.