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There's Nothing Worse Than Waking Up With Nighttime Heartburn - Here's How To Avoid It

Aug 17, 2007
We all know what heartburn is - that burning sensation you feel when the lower esophageal sphincter opens backwards and allows acid and food to return in the esophagus, sometimes up to the mouth, bringing with it an acute burning sensation in the chest. This is called heartburn, maybe because it seems like your heart is on fire!

Why Does Nighttime Heartburn Give Us So Much Grief So Often?

A number of medical reports and studies have shown that lying down, or sleeping, immediately after a heavy meal often causes heavy indigestion and heartburn. This is because sleep reduces the capacity of the body to digest food and so it stays half digested in the stomach for longer, causing extra stomach acid to be produced. It's also been shown that when anyone changes their sleeping position so that the upper part of the body is slightly elevated, the nighttime heartburn, if it occurs, will not be as severe.

However, the best way to prevent nighttime heartburn is to finish your meals at least two to three hours before you retire for the night. In case you cannot avoid eating late, or immediately retiring to bed, try to sleep on the left side with your left leg straight, and your right leg bent at the knee at a right angle. This position can give almost instant relief from nighttime heartburn and can be used as an SOS treatment when you have nothing better to combat it.

If, after these precautions, you still get acute nighttime heartburn, it is time to consult with a doctor who will be able to prescribe for you the right treatment, diet and other precautionary measures to prevent any re-occurrence.

It's important that the doctor's advice and prescribed treatments are followed closely so that they are given the chance to work properly. Do not stop any course of medicine in the middle of their prescribed period - usually after you 'feel a bit better' - because this will cause the body to grow more resistant to the drugs and probably make matters worse the next time you have an attack of nighttime heartburn as the treatment will then not be as effective.

There is a wide range of medicines on offer for the treatment of heartburn. The most welcome are always those that offer instant relief, but the most valuable are actually those that prevent the problem before it occurs by reducing the amount of acid that the stomach produces. Prevention is always better than cure, particularly with something like heartburn that can have long term negative consequences.
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