It is very common for people who suffer from acid reflux to present some associated sleep disorders like snoring. In addition, this condition can produce other upper respiratory tract symptoms, such as recurring coughing, sore throat, sinusitis, and wheezing, besides presenting chest pain not related to the cardiovascular system.
But before explaining the relation between acid reflux and snoring, is necessary to understand these two medical conditions separately.
Firstly, acid reflux occurs as a result of the stomach acids leaking backward and upward into the esophagus due to the improper closure of the valve that connects its lower portion to the stomach known as lower esophageal sphincter (LES). This produces the classic digestive symptoms of burning chest pain and acidic taste known as heartburn and regurgitation, respectively.
Some of the various causes of acid reflux include:
• Eating large meals or lying down on the back right after a meal.
• Consuming certain foods like citrus, chocolate, mint, garlic, onions, tomato, spicy or fatty foods.
• Drinking alcoholic beverages, carbonated drinks, coffee or tea.
• Overweight or obesity.
• Hiatal hernia.
• Chronic smoking.
• Consuming certain medications, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, some muscle relaxers, or blood pressure medicines.
People who constantly present acid reflux are usually diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, a chronic form of acid reflux that needs a more proactive treatment plan if certain complications are meant to be prevented.
On the other hand, snoring, a loud or harsh sound produced during any stage of sleep, is caused when the airflow makes the tissues in the throat vibrate. Certain factors like sleeping face up, being overweight or obese, consuming alcohol or other depressants, having a cold or allergy, etc., may increase the chances of snoring.
Although it usually does not disrupt the general quality of sleep, snoring can be related to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which can really affect the individual´s day-to-day life.
So, what is the relation between acid reflux and snoring? Well, while upright and awake, a person with acid reflux can limit its impact thanks to gravity. However, if this same individual adopts a reclining position, gravity can no longer act as a protection against stomach acids, which make their way into the esophagus, if the LES is faulty.
When these acids and/or undigested foods arrive at the esophagus or even the throat, the airways may become obstructed or blocked, altering breathing at different levels. This can lead to the tissues in the back of the pharynx or larynx to vibrate, producing the classic snoring sound during inhalation.
In addition, with time, the constant regurgitation of stomach acids can irritate, inflame, and damage the delicate tissue located in the throat and esophagus, prolonging the medical condition and leading to more complications.
For these reasons, adequate treatment options are meant to be considered in order to solve the digestive problem and prevent the development of other respiratory conditions. Making some changes regarding the diet and sleep hygiene can certainly improve the quality of life of those who suffer from acid reflux and snoring.