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Are Daytime and Nighttime Acid Reflux Different?

Acid reflux can occur at any time because the stomach is constantly producing acid, but acid production varies at different times. Food enters the mouth and moves down to the stomach, stimulating production of stomach enzymes and acid for digestion. The first major step in food processing is in the stomach, which slowly moves material into the small intestines where nutrients are absorbed. Certain fried and highfat foods can stimulate the stomach to produce more acid and digestive juices than normal. Also, fatty foods slow stomach emptying, which means acidic material sits in the stomach for longer periods of time. Both of these factors explain why acid reflux symptoms might increase after you eat larger and fatty meals.

Nighttime acid reflux occurs because when you lie down to sleep, your stomach is actually level with or higher than your esophagus. This allows stomach fluid and acid to flow into the esophagus. Because of nighttime reflux, you might experience sleeping difficulties, wake In some ways, nocturnal acid reflux can actually be more dangerous than daytime acid reflux is. During the day, we subconsciously swallow, frequently clearing acid from the esophagus. While sleeping, we do not spontaneously swallow and so acid is not frequently cleared from the esophagus. Therefore, acid that flows back into the esophagus can sit there for extended periods of time and cause damage to the esophageal lining.

Nighttime reflux is also worse because while sleeping you do not have the ability to protect your airway as you do when you are awake during the day. If you have food or fluid in your mouth, while you’re awake you can swallow it properly and can keep it out of your lungs. If you regurgitate while you’re asleep, you can easily inhale fluid into your lungs. This can result in voice changes, chronic cough, chronic throat clearing, asthma, or pneumonia.

Management and prevention of day versus night symptoms are different. During the day, restrict your intake of certain foods such as caffeine, mint, spices, tomato, and citrus-based foods. At night, be sure not to eat for at least two hours prior to bedtime to reduce reflux symptoms. The major difference between day and night acid reflux management is in your body position. During the day, normally you are upright, but when you lie down at night, you reduce the protective effects of gravity. At night, you can use gravity to your advantage by elevating your esophagus over your stomach. Put bricks or cinderblocks under the legs at the head of your bed or use a wedge pillow to elevate your chest and head. Try sleeping with your left side down to help restore the benefits of gravity and improve symptoms. up frequently, and be tired the next day.

By Mortin - Copyright 2009
Last modification 31/12/2009

Are Daytime and Nighttime Acid Reflux Different? References