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Can Acid Reflux Cause Snoring?

lady trying to sleep while husband is snoring

 

Snoring is a common sleeping disorder that affects about 45% of the adult population. It’s also one of the most common reasons people see a doctor, and it can have serious health consequences if left untreated. Snoring often stems from issues with your mouth or throat, but not always. One surprising cause of snoring is acid reflux disease (or GERD). This article will explore how acid reflux causes you to snore by constricting your airways and what steps you can take to reduce or eliminate this problem. 

Gender plays a role in how common acid reflux is among adults: women are about twice as likely to have acid reflux disease as men. 

What is acid reflux?

A condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) affects millions of people and is characterized by the backward flow of stomach acid and other digestive fluids into your esophagus. This can cause a burning sensation in your throat and chest area, especially at night. Acid reflux often leads to chronic heartburn, which many people mistake for indigestion. The burning sensation can occur frequently or intermittently, and it’s often worse when lying down or bending over. Many treatments can help alleviate the pain of acid reflux disease, including lifestyle changes and medications.

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.

RelatedAn effective snoring juice recipe that can help reduce snoring.

What is the relation between acid reflux and snoring? 

While upright and awake, a person with acid reflux can limit its impact thanks to gravity. However, suppose this same individual adopts a reclining position. In that case, 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 unprocessed 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 vibrating, 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 diet and sleep hygiene can certainly improve the quality of life of those who suffer from acid reflux and snoring.

What causes acid reflux?

  • 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.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Chronic smoking.
  • Consuming certain medications, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, some muscle relaxers, or blood pressure medicines.

Treating acid reflux & snoring

There are many different methods for treating acid reflux, and it’s common to need more than one treatment to manage this condition. Some of the most effective treatments include:

  • taking medications like proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) before bed.
  • eating smaller meals throughout the day rather than one big meal at night. 
  • avoid any foods that are known irritants for people with acid reflux, such as citrus fruits or spicy food before bedtime.
  • reducing other acidic foods from your diet
  • losing some weight if necessary
  • avoid tobacco smoke, alcohol, caffeinated beverages; 
  • elevate your head at night when sleeping on your back (by putting a few pillows under your head). 

If the problem persists after changing these habits, talk to a doctor about medications like proton pump inhibitors- they have been shown to help reverse gerd symptoms by reducing stomach acids responsible for causing heartburn. 

If you have children, keeping them properly hydrated will make sure their throats stay moist and help inhibit reflux. It’s important to have them sleep on their side or possibly in a reclining position, ensuring there is no further blockage to the throats of your children.

Acid reflux symptoms

Depending on the severity of your acid reflux, you may experience a variety of symptoms in addition to heartburn and swollen throat tissues. Some of these additional symptoms can include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath (dyspnea).
  • A dry cough that occurs when lying down (reflux laryngitis).
  • Hoarseness & chronic sore throat during sleep.
  • Heartburn that comes on while you sleep at night. 
  • A recurring cough, especially if it’s worse when lying down or bending over.
  • Regurgitation: a sour or bitter-tasting acid backing up into your throat or mouth.
  • Bloating, Burping & Nausea.
  • Black or bloody stool. Bloody vomiting.
  • Dysphagia -- the sensation of food being stuck in your throat.
  • Consistent hiccups that don't let up.

Bottom Line:

There’s not much in an exact way of at-home remedies for treating acid influx & snoring. It requires professional diagnosis and treatment to fix. The best thing to do is consult your doctor. Your physician will be able to perform tests in order to diagnose the severity of your condition. If they find out that there's a medical issue, such as an ulcer or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), then it becomes important for them to prescribe medication for these conditions.

Having said that, it's always better to try some of the home remedies we mentioned earlier as they’ll hopefully get you better sleep. Again, these aren’t hard and fast solutions, so be ready to try a few of them before you can see changes.

References:

Wise, S. K., Wise, J. C., & DelGaudio, J. M. (2006). Gastroesophageal reflux and laryngopharyngeal reflux in patients with sleep-disordered breathing. Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, 135(2), 253-257.

Karkos, P. D., Leong, S. C., Benton, J., Sastry, A., Assimakopoulos, D. A., & Issing, W. J. (2009). Reflux and sleeping disorders: a systematic review. The Journal of Laryngology & Otology, 123(4), 372-374.

Zanation, A. M., & Senior, B. A. (2005). The relationship between extraesophageal reflux (EER) and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Sleep medicine reviews, 9(6), 453-458.

Eskiizmir, G., & Kezirian, E. (2009). Is there a vicious cycle between obstructive sleep apnea and laryngopharyngeal reflux disease?. Medical hypotheses, 73(5), 706-708.

Demeter, P., & Pap, A. (2004). The relationship between gastroesophageal reflux disease and obstructive sleep apnea. Journal of gastroenterology, 39(9), 815-820.

Ing, A. J., Ngu, M. C., & Breslin, A. B. (2000). Obstructive sleep apnea and gastroesophageal reflux. The American journal of medicine, 108(4), 120-125.