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What is regurgitation?

Regurgitation is the sensation of material (food or liquid) coming up the esophagus (burping up material). This is usually worse just after eating when your stomach is full and there is more material to reflux up the esophagus. It is also worse at bedtime when you lie down. During the day, you have the benefit of gravity helping to keep things down in the stomach.When you lie down, the stomach and esophagus are level with each other, removing the effects of gravity, which facilitates material coming up and causing regurgitation.

Regurgitation feels like liquid with an acidic or bitter taste coming up to the chest or mouth. Nighttime or nocturnal regurgitation can be very serious. During the day, when regurgitation occurs you are awake and can swallow it, protecting the windpipe and lungs. At night when you’re asleep, this swallowing protection is not possible, and liquid can be inhaled into the lungs, causing aspiration that can lead to pneumonia.

Regurgitation can be prevented or minimized by eating smaller meals, not eating for at least 2 hours prior to going to bed, or elevating the head of the bed.Nighttime head elevation can be achieved by sleeping on a pillow that is wedge-shaped or by putting bricks or cinder blocks under the legs of the head of the bed.

Regurgitation is very unpleasant, especially when it wakes you from a sound sleep. Not only is it uncomfortable, you know after it happens that it has to have serious health effects if not eliminated or substantially reduced. I have found that eating smaller dinners 3 to 4 hours before going to bed really helps the symptoms. I have also found that elevating my head while sleeping drastically reduces nighttime acid reflux.

By Mortin - Copyright 2009
Last modification 31/12/2009

What is regurgitation? References