Acid reflux (also known as heartburn) can be a real pain. Unfortunately it’s incredibly common with up to 25% of UK adults suffering regularly.
Symptoms are generally temporary but they’re still pretty unpleasant. They include a sour taste in your mouth and a burning sensation in the centre of your chest. Many people also report bad breath, a cough or hiccups that are hard to get rid of, a nauseous and/or bloated feeling, and a hoarse voice (sometimes called “acid reflux throat”).
What causes acid reflux?
When you swallow food, it goes through a muscular valve at the entrance to your stomach called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Usually the LES closes quickly once food has gone through it. But if it doesn’t close quickly enough, or only partially closes, then stomach acid from your stomach can travel up into your esophagus, causing acid reflux. If symptoms of heartburn occur more than a couple of times a week, you may have something called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). If you think this might be the case, contact your GP.
There are quite a few things that can cause acid reflux to occur. They include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Drinking alcoholic or fizzy drinks, or tea and coffee
- Eating large meals or having a lay down straight after a meal
- Snacking just before you go to bed
- Bending over after eating
- Laying on your back
- Taking ibuprofen, aspirin, blood pressure medications and certain muscle relaxers
- Being pregnant
Acid reflux foods to avoid
A number of foods and drinks can cause the LES to relax. Food and drinks that commonly trigger heartburn include:
- Alcohol (especially red wine)
- Any foods that are greasy or fatty
- Raw onions
- Black pepper
- Spicy foods like curry and chilli (sorry!)
- Products containing citrus fruits such as oranges and orange juice, lemons and grapefruit
Acid reflux in pregnancy
Pregnancy hormones can affect the LES valve, leading to heartburn even in women who’ve never had it before.
Later on in pregnancy, a woman’s growing uterus can press on the stomach which in turn makes acid reflux worse. Luckily, although acid reflux feels uncomfortable it isn’t doing you or the baby any harm. Occasionally, heartburn can be a sign of an underlying condition that needs further investigation. If symptoms are severe or very sudden, speak to your midwife or GP.
How to get rid of acid reflux
So what’s the best way to stop acid reflux in its tracks? Luckily there are a few things you can try.
The first is propping your head up by 10cm to 15cm when you go to bed. This can help stop the acid rising up so much into the esophagus, but make sure you’re still comfy enough to sleep.
Our Acid Reflux Wedge Pillow is perfect for this, as it’s made from high density foam that supports your back, neck and head whilst also being super snuggly. It’s particularly perfect for those who like to sleep on their side or back and the soft, breathable polycotton cover is washable and hypoallergenic. Take a look at our Acid Reflux Wedge Pillow for more details.
Additionally, a number of acid reflux medications are available over the counter which you may wish to try too. They all work in a similar way, with big names including Rennies which come as chewable tablets, and Gaviscon which is a liquid. However we strongly recommend checking the label carefully and speaking with your GP before trying them.
Take a look at our store
If heartburn (or indeed anything else) is keeping you awake at night, why not browse our store or check out our best sellers. From sports recovery pillows and cooling mattress toppers to relaxation candles and baby nests, there’s something for everyone. Get ready for your best night’s sleep yet!