Among the signs of underlying health issues you mustn’t ignore is heartburn. For those prone to heartburn, avoiding the common triggers like eating spicy foods or wearing tight belts or pants is vital to prevent that burning sensation from surfacing. But despite such efforts, there are times when the flare-ups cannot be averted, particularly at night during bedtime, where it even seems to worsen and get in the way of sleep.
This exacerbation is mainly due to the force of gravity. Gravity helps when standing or sitting as it moves the food through the oesophagus to the stomach, where digestion occurs. But when you are in a lying position, gravity no longer aids in clearing food, bile, and acids from your oesophagus and leads to heartburn. People with heartburn have different experiences from one another and encounter symptoms during the day and night. However, many find it difficult to manage nocturnal flare-ups.
What causes the unpleasant feeling of heartburn?
The food you eat passes down the throat and oesophagus toward the stomach. An opening between the oesophagus and stomach is controlled by a muscle called the lower oesophagal sphincter and remains closed whenever you are not swallowing food.
If something hinders this muscle from closing once the food passes through, reflux can occur, which is when the acids in the stomach can go back up the oesophagus and cause that burning sensation of heartburn.
How to reduce nocturnal heartburn
Apart from consulting a virtual doctor in Singapore for advice, there are many things you can do to reduce heartburn, such as:
1. Eat smaller and less fatty meals and mind your food sensitivities
Those with chronic heartburn are advised to stick to meals with at most 20 grams of fat and 500 calories. Eating smaller meals later in the day is also recommended to relieve nighttime heartburn. When it comes to the foods you eat, avoid those that may trigger digestive issues, like dairy products, lemons, tomatoes, and alcohol.
2. Wait for a few hours after dinner before sleeping
It takes the stomach at most five hours to fully digest a meal, so it is best to wait at least three hours before heading to bed.
3. Take prescribed medication
Proton pump inhibitors are commonly prescribed for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or heartburn. Although these are generally safe, it is best to consult with healthcare providers should long-term usage be necessary to better understand its potential risks.
If you need something more suited for on-demand consumption, try alginate preparations. Alginate forms a raft atop the pocket of acid sitting in the stomach and is shown to be an effective agent for managing heartburn symptoms on an as-needed basis.
4. Use a body pillow when sleeping
Use a sleep-positioning device like a body pillow to keep your head elevated and your body on the left side when sleeping. Sleeping in this position gets gravity to work for you even when lying down and also enables the acids in your gut to pass through the lower oesophagal sphincter and down to the stomach.
5. Adapt certain lifestyle changes
People with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or above are at a much higher risk of heartburn, which is why losing weight and maintaining a healthy BMI score is recommended. In addition, quitting smoking is another vital step to reducing heartburn, as studies show that it is highly effective at alleviating heartburn.
If you suffer from heartburn, you should now have a better idea as to why flare-ups are harder to control at night. Try out the tips mentioned above and see if you notice any improvements during bedtime. Otherwise, getting online medical consultation is the next best step.
With the MYCLNQ app, booking a consultation with a certified doctor is easier than ever. In addition to online video/teleconsultation, you can also access many key medical services you need, such as private ambulance services, medical e-commerce, and supervised ART testing, all in just a few clicks. For more information about our services, don’t hesitate to contact us today.