Acidity is also known as heartburn or pyrosis. It occurs when gastric fluids leak into the esophagus or food pipe. If it happens for more than two weeks regularly this condition is referred to as Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD.
In most patients who have acidity, there is worsening of symptoms at night. Therefore, in this article, we will have an overview of acidity at night and some tips on stopping it.
What are the causes of acidity at night?
When we eat a band of muscles known as the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) functions as a valve to the stomach. LES ensures that no food leaks from the stomach into the esophagus.
But when this sphincter fails to shut completely, gastric content reflux into the food pipe. As gastric content is acidic, it produces a burning sensation known as heartburn.
When someone has a meal in a sitting or standing posture, the food and acid remain inside the stomach due to the force of gravity. On the other hand, when someone is lying or lying down soon after meals, it is convenient for the gastric contents to go back up into the food pipe. This is why most people with acidity experience worsening symptoms at night.
What are the risk factors for acidity at night?
Certain triggers may cause or aggravate acidity, such as:
- Spicy and fatty food
- High mental stress
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Wearing tight fitting clothes
- Lying within two hours after meals
- Having heavy dinner
What are the signs and symptoms of acidity?
The signs and symptoms of acidity are:-
- Regurgitation of bitter or sour tasting fluid
- Dysphagia or difficulty in swallowing
- Feeling that the food is stuck in the throat.
- Chronic sore throat
- Persistent dry cough
- Chest pain
What are the complications of acidity?
- Esophagitis or inflammation of the esophageal lining. This can lead to irritation, bleeding and ulcers in esophagus.
- Strictures or scarring of the esophagus. This can cause difficulty in swallowing food and drinks.
- Barrett?s esophagus- In this cancerous change can take place in the cells and tissue in the mucus lining of the esophagus
How we can stop acidity at night?
Following are some tips that can help to manage acidity at night.
- Lie on the left side of the body while sleeping- Sleeping on the left side reduces the pressure on the stomach. This prevents the chances of gastric fluids leaking into the food pipe.
- Lying with head and chest elevated- Lifting the upper body higher than the lower body at the level of the waist helps to relieve acidity. This is because gravity prevents the stomach fluid from leaking into the food pipe.
- For this, one can use bricks, cinder blocks, wood beams or specially designed wedge pillows. Alternatively, one can raise the upper half of the bed for this purpose.
- Reducing bodyweight- This help to reduce pressure from the abdomen
- Avoid tight-fitting clothes- It is recommended to avoid wearing tight clothes like bras or clothes with tight waistbands at night. Instead one should wear loose clothes like pyjamas.
- Avoid snacking late at night- It is advisable to have dinner 2-3 hours before going to bed.
- Eat small meals- It is advisable to have 4-5 small meals rather than 3 meals throughout the day
- Avoid common food triggers of acidity especially in the dinner. These are citric fruits, tomato and tomato products, spicy, fatty food, peppermint, chocolate, alcohol, caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee and carbonated drinks like soda. One can maintain a journal to find such triggers and avoid having them in dinner.
- Quit smoking
- If one finds certain medications to cause acidity, one should talk to the doctor about this.
What is the treatment commonly available for acidity?
Homoeopathy provides safe and effective treatment for acidity.
Homeopathic medicine for acidity helps to regulate the amount of acid secreted by the stomach as well as improves the overall digestion process.
The best homeopathic medicine for acidity is the well selected constitutional medicine. For this, a trained homeopathic physician takes a detailed case history of the patient.
Other commonly indicated homeopathic medicine for acidity and gas are:
ARSENICUM ALBUM– It is suitable for cases where the burning is better by taking sips of warm water. The patient as a person has debility, restlessness and aggravation of symptoms at the midnight.
CARBO VEGETABILIS– It is suitable for cases when their excessive flatulence and the simplest food disagrees. The symptoms are worse on lying down. The patient feels better from eructation and constant fanning.
IRIS VERSICOLOR– It is indicated when there is burning along the whole digestive passage. The appetite is low with profuse salivation. Also, there is a frontal headache that is preceded by blurred vision.
NATRUM PHOSPHORICA- It is indicated when there is sour eructation and vomiting, dysphagia and yellow coating of the tongue and back part of the roof of the mouth.
ROBINIA PSEUDOCACIA– It is indicated when there is profuse vomiting of intensely acrid fluid, nightly burning pains in the stomach and constipation with urgent desire for stools.
Acidity is a common problem today. If it happens regularly, it needs medical attention. In most patients, symptoms of acidity aggravate at night. Eating late at night, having a heavy dinner, having spicy, fatty food in dinner are common risk factors that lead to acidity at night. Obesity, excessive alcohol intake, smoking, excessive intake of carbonated drinks and caffeinated drinks are other known risk factors of acidity. Occasional bouts of acidity can be managed well by following certain tips. These include maintaining an ideal weight, exercising regularly, controlling stress, eating small meals, avoiding late dinners, avoid alcohol intake and smoking. One can maintain a food journal to find such food triggers and avoid having them, especially at dinner. For treatment of chronic cases of acidity, homeopathy provides safe and effective treatment.