Over 60 million people in the United States suffer from heartburn at least once a month. This common condition that causes a painful burning sensation in your chest and throat can also cause more serious health issues if you have it at night.
When you come in to see us at The Bariatric Experts, Dr. Scott Stowers and our team are heartburn specialists who can help you find the right solution to relieve your symptoms.
Why heartburn occurs
You have a lower esophageal sphincter, which is a muscle that controls the opening between your esophagus and stomach. It stays tightly closed until you swallow food.
If the muscle doesn’t close properly after your food passes through, the acid from what you ate can come back up from your stomach into your esophagus. That’s when you experience heartburn.
Why heartburn can be worse at night
If you suffer from heartburn mostly at night, there’s a reason for it — gravity.
During the day when you’re walking, standing, and sitting up straight, your food travels through your esophagus and into your stomach where it digests. But when you lie down to go to sleep, because of how gravity works, your body doesn’t clear out the food, bile, and acids quite as easily, which can cause heartburn to occur.
When you have heartburn at night, it tends to leave acid in your esophagus for longer periods of time, which can make your condition more serious than daytime heartburn.
Is nighttime heartburn dangerous?
Chronic heartburn — whether you experience it day or night or both — can have damaging results over time. It can cause you to develop inflammation and scar tissue in your esophagus, causing it to narrow, which can lead to serious health issues like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Unfortunately, it’s harder to control your heartburn at night.
Treatments for nighttime heartburn
To reduce your heartburn at night, you may need to start making lifestyle changes, which include:
- Avoid eating certain foods, like chocolate, tomatoes, and anything spicy
- Stay away from ketchup, mustard, vinegar, and pepper (or use in extreme moderation)
- Chew gum (it boosts saliva, which reduces heartburn)
- Take over-the-counter acid-reducing medications
- Lose weight if you’re overweight or obese
- Stop eating two to three hours before you go to sleep
- Sleep with your head elevated four to six inches
Also, let Dr. Stowers know what prescription medications you take, if any. Some medicines could contribute to your heartburn.
If you can get your heartburn under control during the evening hours, you can eliminate your symptomatic disruptions, which can help you sleep well. Managing your heartburn can also lower your risk of additional health complications.
You may need a more permanent solution if home remedies and lifestyle changes don’t give you the results you need. During your consultation, Dr. Stowers evaluates you and learns about your symptoms and their frequency to determine the right treatment for you.
Are you tired of heartburn or have concerns about the flare-ups you have at night? Then reach out to us for an assessment, advice, and treatment. We have offices in Frisco, Abilene, or Denton, Texas. Just click here to request an appointment, or call us at 940-577-2090. You can also email us at email@example.com.