GERD and Sleep

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people of all ages, ethnicities and cultures and tends to run in families.

SYMPTOMS:

The most frequently reported symptoms of GERD are:

  • Heartburn
  • Acid regurgitation
  • Inflammation of the gums
  • Erosion of the enamel of the teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Belching
  • Chronic sore throat

Some patients with GERD experience no symptoms at all. Because of the wide range of symptoms associated with GERD and the need to distinguish it from heart-related problems, the number of medical visits and tests needed to diagnose or rule out the disease tends to be quite high.

TREATMENT:

GERD is a recurrent and chronic disease that does not resolve itself. If you are diagnosed with GERD, there are several methods of treatment which your doctor will discuss with you including behavioral modifications, medications, surgery, or a combination of methods. Over-the-counter medications may provide temporary relief but will not prevent symptoms from recurring.

The lifestyle changes you can make to minimize GERD include avoiding fats, onions, chocolate and alcohol. Losing weight may also help alleviate GERD symptoms.

Because of the association between GERD and sleep apnea, people with nighttime GERD symptoms should be screening for sleep apnea.

COPING:

These lifestyle modifications should help minimize reflux:

  • Avoid lying down after a large meal
  • Eat smaller meals and maintain an upright, relaxed posture
  • Avoid fats, onions, chocolate and alcohol
  • Avoid potassium supplements
  • Always swallow medication in the upright position and wash it down with lots of water

POLL DATA:

GERD is the 3rd most common gastrointestinal disorder in the US and one of the leading causes of disturbed sleep among people between the ages of 45 and 64, according to the 2002 NSF Sleep in America poll.

Reviewed by William C. Orr, Ph.D.