You've just adjusted your pillow and here comes that dry, unproductive cough again. You could pile all the pillows and covers under your head until you are practically sleeping sitting up, but that just leaves your partner cold and not prone to their own productive slumbers. When reflux rears its up-and-coming night of tossing and turning, sore throat-mongering deluge, should you just pop an acid reducer and hope for the best? No, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is more than mere heartburn. GERD is a disease. When it attacks, nobody sleeps. So what can you do to allay the beast within?
GERD Hacks: Getting Sleep Keeps You Healthier (And Keeps The Peace)
Your esophagus and the little sphincter at the base of it play key roles in digestion. When GERD attacks, the sphincter isn't opening or closing properly. GERD's symptoms can be unnerving as it can cause chest pain, throat spasms, and difficulty swallowing. The dry cough, hoarseness, and acidy heartburn often worsen at night.
Short-Term Reflux Hacks
Here's some remedies to give you relief for the night so both you and your partner can sleep:
- Sleep at a 45-degree angle supported by firm pillows. Some doctors don't advocate using pillows to relieve reflux as they can flatten or be rearranged during the night. Raising the head of your bed with a wedge is more effective. The bottom line is to keep your head elevated at least half a foot so reflux doesn't enter the esophagus producing the cough and other symptoms.
- Sleep in a recliner--in the other room. But don't sleep completely sitting up as it compresses your internal organs causing reflux to exacerbate.
- Suck on a menthol cough drop to coat your throat and to ease pain from incessant coughing.
- Sleep in loose clothing, especially around your diaphragm and waist.
Long-Term Reflux Hacks
Consistent lifestyle changes and adherence to your doctor's treatment is key to long-term GERD management.
- Take your GERD medication at the same time each day, every day. Follow your physician's instructions to the letter.
- Lose weight, if you are overweight or obese, to lessen pressure on your abdomen. Abdominal pressure can cause the backwash into your esophagus.
- Eat smaller meals, several times a day, and not three hours before bedtime. Acidic foods, alcohol and caffeine can trigger reflux symptoms.
- If you smoke, stop. Smoking adds to sphincter dysfunction.
Don't let reflux disease keep you and your partner up at night. Sleep deprivation causes stress, anger, foggy thinking, and can compromise your immune system causing you to feel more than tired and run-down. As always, consult your doctor should symptoms worsen. Get productive about your cough and get some sleep. For more information, contact establishments like Premier Surgical Associates.