Since the dawn of acid reflux disease, doctors have been working on different medicines and treatments to help lessen its effects. From weight loss, to exercise, to following a blander diet, their theories have helped (if not cured) thousands of suffering patients. But one of their recommendations, one of the easiest yet most baffling methods, has fared far better than the rest: sleeping on an incline. Whether using a wedge pillow, sitting in a recliner after dinner (once the food has settled, that is), or simply eating several hours before bed, this treatment has greatly reduced acid reflux for all types of patients.
The positive results may speak for themselves, but what’s the science behind this method? Why do doctors recommend this incline alignment cure? What does such a simple change have to offer long-term sufferers?
Because of the way the stomach and the esophagus are linked, staying upright can prevent acid from entering the “food pipe,” simply through gravity. With acid reflux, stomach acids flow back into the esophagus, which creates a burning sensation, as well as bad tastes and/or pain. But by creating a steeper incline for the acid to travel, patients have a much smaller chance that reflux will occur in the first place.
According to ongoing doctor research, half of all adults in the U.S. suffer from acid reflux at least once a month. While 20 percent say they suffer at least once per week. The disease can occur alongside heartburn, in addition to, or on its own, depending on the specific symptoms. (Though in most cases the pair team up to create the maximum amount of discomfort.)
The ailment can also occur in those of all ages, though older individuals are more susceptible. However, by far the most frequent sufferers are those who are obese, those who fail to exercise on a regular basis, and those who eat a spicy or unhealthy diet.
Because of these increased odds, simply lifestyle changes (including sleeping on an incline), are some of the most doctor-recommend cures. For instance, avoiding citrus fruits, coffee, garlic, or onion – especially with heavy meals. However, doctors still insist that a combination of factors is the best way to keep acid reflux symptoms at bay.
To get the most out of your treatment, remember to:
For years doctors have been singing the praises that gravity has to offer against acid reflux. Though raising the upper body may not be enough fighting power to combat the worst of symptoms, it’s a great add-on to any treatment regimen. Whether heading to bed, sitting down for dinner, or just working through the latest attack, remember to stay upright for a fighting chance against all your acid reflux symptoms.