Health Tips and Wellness Tips

What It's Like to Choke from Acid Relux While You're Trying to Sleep

Acid Reflux Chokes Me Awake at Night

by Drew Harris

Acid reflux has forced me to suddenly wake up countless times, in a state of panic, choking on my own acid and gasping for breath.

Nothing can really describe the burning bile feeling, or the taste it leaves in your mouth as you try not to gag and throw-up.
I have had to stick a pinch of toothpaste into my mouth and leave it there to try and cut the bile taste.

I  was diagnosed with a hiatal hernia as a teenager, which may contribute to acid reflux. The burning acid had left me alone for most of my 20's. However, a high stress job and a subsequent gain in weight and lack of exercise brought the acid reflux back on with a vengeance in my 30's.

When I started having almost constant waves of heartburn and acid indigestion, sitting upright at my desk, I knew it was time to see the doctor.

At that time, I had never heard of acid reflux.

 

 

 


 

 

Causes of acid reflux

Acid reflux is a harmful chronic disease which can be caused by many different factors. In this article, we’ll do an in-depth examination of what may be causing acid reflux disease.

One of the main reasons that people experience the caustic fluid backup that is characteristic of acid reflux is improper functioning of the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES muscles. These muscles are found at the base of the esophagus and provide a method of opening and closing the passageway to the stomach. When the LES muscles are weakened, they are often unable to fully close. This can result in acid from the stomach finding its way up into the esophagus.

Abnormalities of the esophagus are another reason why people are afflicted with acid reflux disease. Several different parts of the esophagus may be malformed, but two of the most common abnormalities that lead to acid reflux are peristalsis and a condition known as adult-ringed esophagus. In an adult-ringed esophagus, there are small rings in the throat which can cause an inability to swallow properly. Improper functioning of the stomach is another factor that can be responsible for acid reflux. Over fifty percent of all acid reflux sufferers have impaired stomach muscles that have difficulty responding quickly to stimuli. This can cause an extended period of time before the stomach is emptied of its contents, often leading to an acid backup in the esophagus.

Hiatal hernias are another reason that one may experience acid reflux. The hiatus is a hole that is located in the diaphragm, helping to secure the passageway between the esophagus and the stomach. The hiatus is usually tight, keeping the organs separate. However, if the hiatus is weakened, it can loosen up and lead to a small part of the stomach actually protruding through the hole. When this happens, a hiatal hernia is said to have occurred. While hiatal hernias are not fully responsible for acid reflux, they can lead to a lack of functioning in the LES muscles, which, as discussed previously, leads to acid reflux.

In addition to all of the aforementioned reasons that one may develop acid reflux, the role of certain drugs may also play a hand. NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be responsible for the development of acid reflux and a worsening of the condition in those who already have it. These drugs are quite common, and some of the most recognized brands of NSAIDs include Motrin, Nuprin, Advil, and Aleve. A recent research study showed that people who regularly took these medications were as much as two times as likely to experience some symptoms of acid reflux.

Asthma and diabetes are two other things to consider when diagnosing the cause of acid reflux. At least half of all asthma sufferers are known to experience acid reflux, and we have not yet discovered which disease may be causing the other. Diabetes sufferers need to be wary of their eating habits when it comes to acid reflux; many diabetics suffer from gastroparesis, a condition that causes a delay in the emptying of the stomach. This can cause a backup in the stomach and consequently an acid buildup in the esophagus.

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He told me that more than 60 million people suffer from frequent heartburn, acid indigestion or GERD (Gastroesophogeal Reflux Disease).

Acid reflux describes the regurgitation of acid back up the throat. It can also lead to more serious medical conditions that may require hospitalization.

My doctor explained this happens when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) does not close properly and stomach contents leak back, or reflux, into the esophagus. The LES is a ring of muscle at the bottom of the esophagus that acts like a valve between the esophagus and stomach. The esophagus carries food from the mouth to the stomach.

When refluxed stomach acid touches the lining of the esophagus, it causes a burning sensation in the chest or throat called heartburn. The fluid may even be tasted in the back of the mouth, which is called acid indigestion. Heartburn that occurs more than twice a week may be considered GERD, and it can eventually lead to more serious health problems.

When I finally went and saw my doctor, I was having almost constant heartburn and acid indigestion.

He further explained that symptoms are usually worse at night when the person is lying flat and acid flows easily from the stomach back up the esophagus.



Anyone, including infants, children, and pregnant women, can have GERD.

I was told to make some lifestyle and dietary changes. They included:

1. Using a wedge pillow to elevate my body at bedtime 2. Eating plenty of fiber and drinking lots of fluids. 3. Eating small meals and eating slowly. 4. Not lying down for at least 1-2 hours after eating. 5. Losing extra pounds. Added weight causes extra pressure on your stomach and can irritate symptoms. 6. Wearing loose clothing. Tightly fitting clothes put extra pressure on your stomach. 7. Not exercising for at least one hour after eating. 8. Avoiding the following: alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, chocolate, carbonated beverages, spices, fried and fatty foods, tomato products, citrus, and peppermint.

I am a non smoker and I don't drink that much. I do drink a fair bit of coffee however. The real culprit for me though has been drinking fruit juice of any kind before bed. When I have, my acid reflux has been significantly worse.


As I have made many of these changes to my lifestyle, I have seen some relief.

The elevated pillow works wonderfully. I have also started taking proton pump inhibitor medication, which reduces acid production in my stomach. I have been told surgery may be an option down the road.

About the author:

Drew Harris owns and operates Acid-refluxsite.com, a one-stop-shop directory for those looking for information on acid reflux and its related issues. Multiple pages of resources, referrals and expert articles. http://acid-refluxsite.com 

 

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