GERD Wedge Pillow
Often wedge pillows are recommended by doctors as a treatment for acid reflux or GERD in order to help them relieve symptoms while they are sleeping.
What are Wedge Pillows?
A wedge pillow is exactly what it is – a pillow shaped like a triangle. Typically made out of foam, the pillow is shaped at an angle. It is meant to be used with the thick end at the top, tapering down to the smaller end that rests on the bed. The intent is to elevate your upper body so that gravity will keep your stomach contents, including stomach acid, liquids and food particles in your stomach instead of allowing them to flow back or reflux into your throat. This reflux of stomach contents is what causes GERD or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease.
A wedge pillow is also recommended to help keep airways open and alleviate sinus problems by allowing them to drain. Piling up pillows or using a shorter wedge pillow will actually make many of these problems worse when you sleep as you will be forced to bend in the middle. Bending will put pressure on your stomach, forcing or allowing the stomach acid into the esophagus.
What Causes GERD?
GERD can be caused by a number of things. If you are overweight or pregnant you can have problems with GERD because of the pressure on the stomach pushing stomach acid and other fluids into the esophagus. Another name for GERD is acid reflux. Many will also use the term heartburn, which is actually a symptom of GERD and a term used to describe the pain that occurs when the acid causing a burning sensation in the chest area of the body.
Often people will get GERD if they smoke or drink alcohol. Certain foods can also cause GERD. While the foods that cause heartburn are somewhat specific to individuals, there are known culprits like fatty foods, fried foods and spicy or acidic foods. Some of the foods that can cause GERD or make it worse are:
- Oranges or orange juice
- Tomatoes or tomato juice, sauces made with tomatoes and even ketchup
- Onions or garlic
- Spices like pepper, chilies and almost any over-seasoning
- Coffee and caffeinated beverages
- Carbonated beverages
What Can I Do To Control GERD?
There are some foods that can actually help you control GERD. These foods include:
- Vegetables like carrots, cabbage, green beans, broccoli, and peas
- Ginger – using a little ginger on your foods or making ginger tea, drinking real ginger ale, can also help relieve GERD.
Another thing that helps relieve GERD symptoms is to eat four to six smaller meals each day instead of three larger ones. When you eat, relax and take your time and chew your food slowly. Stress can exacerbate GERD so anything you can do to simplify your life and remove stress is good.
It will also help not to eat for several hours before you lie down to sleep. If your stomach is full when you go to bed it can make GERD symptoms worse.
Using Gravity to Combat GERD
When you are standing or sitting straight, the stomach is situated below you esophagus allowing gravity to help keep your stomach contents inside the stomach. Lying down puts your stomach and esophagus on almost the same level, making it easier for the contents of your stomach to flow back or reflux into your throat. This is why the symptoms of GERD typically get worse at night when you are trying to sleep.
This is also why a wedge pillow can help you alleviate GERD symptoms. The wedge pillow creates an incline that will keep your torso elevated, making it harder for the acid in your stomach to flow back into your esophagus or throat. This natural solution when used with some of the dietary and lifestyle changes mentioned above may help GERD sufferers get a good night sleep. Being able to sleep well can help reduce stress which in turn may reduce your symptoms of GERD.
Often people will elevate their bed about six inches. This is also a good solution that uses gravity. The problem arises if you share your bed with a partner who doesn’t suffer from GERD. The partner may not be able to sleep with the bed elevated in this manner.
Another problem arises if you travel. How do you elevate the bed in a hotel or at the home of a family member or friend? Having a wedge pillow allows you to travel and still combat GERD symptoms in a natural manner.
The symptoms of GERD can make sleeping flat on the bed an uncomfortable and often impossible feat. A wedge pillow can help you use gravity to naturally fight the reflux of stomach acid.