If an individual wakes up in the middle of the night due to choking and coughing, it can indicate allergies or even respiratory conditions. On the other hand, gagging can also indicate acid reflux. It is important to note that the choking and coughing can be oftentimes accompanied by classic symptoms of heartburn such as burning sensation and acidic taste in the throat. Tenacious reflux that manifests more than twice a week is considered as GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease. There are tests that can be used to determine if the individual suffers from acid reflux disease and there are available treatment options.
Close look on acid reflux
Acid reflux is a condition in which the stomach acids and digestive juices flow back up to the esophagus. Lifestyle that involves eating spicy or heavy foods, smoking, drinking alcohol and being overweight can contribute to acid reflux.
Fried foods, full-fat dairy, tomato products and even using mint toothpaste close to bed time can trigger occurrences of heartburn and reflux. Hiatal hernias can often result to acid reflux that can be relieved in a sleeping position with the head raised at least 7 inches.
Symptoms of acid reflux
The back flow of gastric juices can result to discomfort and searing pain in the mid-chest, abdomen and throat. The indications of acid reflux include hoarseness and asthma symptoms such as wheezing or coughing. The stomach acid that splashes into the nose and mouth and sometimes, the air passages of the lungs can cause this. In severe cases, the fluid in the lungs can cause aspiration pneumonia after inhaling the foreign substances.
Potential dangers of untreated reflux
Allowing night time acid reflux to persist is not beneficial in any way. The esophagus might end up scarred that constrict the passageway, thus causing difficulty in swallowing. The lining of the esophagus can also bleed, ulcerate or develop abnormal cells which is a condition called Barrett’s syndrome. This condition is considered to be a pre-cancerous situation and esophageal cancer is often fatal. If left untreated, acid reflux and GERD can also worsen or instigate asthma, pulmonary fibrosis and chronic coughing.
Measures to alleviate acid reflux
The recommended medications include over-the-counter antacids that combine calcium, magnesium and aluminum salts. Proton pump inhibitors and H2 blockers can provide lasting relief and available in over-the-counter and prescription strengths.
A doctor should be consulted first before using any medication. Changes in the lifestyle are also effective such as cutting down weight, limit consumption of alcohol and quit smoking. Try to avoid eating late at night or having dinner less than 3 hours before bedtime. It is also vital to cut down on spicy foods, carbonated beverages, caffeine, tomato sauce, citrus and chocolate or consume these items in moderation earlier in the day.