Published November 3, 2023
Besides having a terrible nightmare, the next worst wake up is from acid coming up from your stomach into your mouth during the night. This is known as GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease. If this wake up happens to you at least twice a week, you probably are suffering from GERD. Maybe you keep over-the-counter medications on hand, but let’s explore how to relieve GERD without medication.
The Unpleasant Wake Up
The unpleasant wake up occurs because a valve in the lower part of your esophagus isn’t working properly. This valve or sphincter between your esophagus and your stomach should automatically close and stay closed. When it behaves abnormally, stomach acid flows backwards into your esophagus.
Occasionally you may belch and the same thing happens during the day when you are upright. Either way, it is an unpleasant experience.
You may still cling to your antacid for relief, but let’s discover some other ways to relieve GERD without medication.
Sleep With Your Head Slightly Raised
Don’t use pillows to elevate your head. Invest in an economical foam wedge. You can find them in other materials too.
If you are lucky enough to have one of those beds that will automatically raise your head, that’s perfect! You need 6 inches above your feet. You will experience fewer unpleasant wake ups.
Slow Down When Eating
You probably tell your own children the same advice. No one is going to take it away from you. Then, while you are eating more slowly, cut down on portions too.
One more tip: don’t sit in your recliner or go to sleep soon after eating. Sit upright and wait several hours before going to bed.
Stay Away From Certain Foods
Our guess is some of these are your favorites. It’s your decision if you want to sleep through the night. At the very least, cut down.
- Spicy foods
- Tomatoes and tomato products
- Fatty foods
- Onions and garlic
- Carbonated drinks
Scrutinize Your Prescription Medications
Postmenopausal estrogen, antidepressants, and anti-inflammatory meds can relax the valve leading to the stomach. Talk with Dr. Carlos Barba if you take any prescription meds that can do the same or irritate the esophagus.
Explore Herbal Remedies
You might be surprised how chamomile tea can ease your stomach upset.
Lose Some Weight
We know, everybody says that, but that’s because it relieves many ills, including GERD.
The pressure from too much weight, especially in the stomach area, can increase GERD symptoms.
Sleep on Your Left Side
Try these simple changes to your diet and lifestyle to ease your GERD symptoms. Ask Dr. Barba about options if these changes are not working well enough even with your OTC antacids.
Be aware that prolonged and untreated acid reflux increases your risk of esophagus damage.