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Bed time meal and GERD

"When is the best time to lie down?"
By: Thaddeus M. Averilla, MDBed time meal and GERD

Do you experience any of the following symptoms - heartburn, chest pain, indigestion, chronic coughing, clearing of throat and post nasal drip upon waking up? If you answer yes, then you might probably have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and need to look at the timing of your last meal before you lie down in bed.

GERD is caused by a lot of things and one of the more common reasons is the association between the last meal and time of sleeping. In fact, in a text book of the American College of Gastroenterology, it is recommended that one should refrain from eating within three hours of going to sleep. This recommendation is being supported by a study conducted among Japanese patients which showed that those with shorter dinner-to-bed time was significantly associated with an increased risk of GERD compared with patients whose dinner-to-bed time was four hours or more. 

Thus, if you have GERD symptoms, sleeping at least three to four hours before the last meal could be one of the many approaches in relieving your GERD symptoms.Other things that you can do to help you with your GERD include numerous lifestyle modifications that have been advocated to be important in GERD therapy. They include elevation of the head of the bed, cessation of smoking, and avoidance of particular foods and/or alcoholic drinks, which provokes GERD symptoms. Losing weight for overweight and obese individuals is also recommended to lessen the GERD symptoms.

These lifestyle modifications have varying benefits to achieve good control of your GERD symptoms.  It is important to know about these interventions so you can choose for yourself on how to integrate them into your treatment plan. Over the counter medication such as antacids can also be of help to alleviate the symptoms of GERD. However, if symptoms still persist it is highly recommended that you consult a physician.

Lifestyle modifications that can help with GERD symptoms:

  • Refrain from eating within three to four hours before going to sleep
  • Elevation of the head of the bed
  • Cessation of smoking
  • Avoidance of particular foods and/or alcoholic drinks which provoke GERD symptoms
  • Maintain ideal body weight
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