Most acid reflux sufferers who work to keep their acid reflux symptoms under control generally have fewer problems, but there are some exceptions. When you suffer from chronic acid reflux, which has been left untreated, you may end up with acid reflux breathing problems that can be serious if you continue to ignore them.
Many people don’t realize that when they sleep, acid can seep up into the lungs. This does not generally occur when acid reflux is controlled, but it does happen more often than people think. The esophagus can sustain damage from refluxed acid, but if acid reflux is treated either with medication, through lifestyle changes or a combination of both, that damage can be repaired.
However, the tissues in the lungs are very vulnerable, and when they are damaged by reflux acid complications can occur and much of the damage can be permanent. This can lead to acid reflux breathing problems that may be with you for the rest of your life.
When the tissues in the lungs are damaged, they simply cannot work as they used to. The tissues can not stand up to the erosive properties of the acid and it starts to alter. This new, tougher type of tissue that lungs produce to protect themselves from a continuing assault from stomach acid simply does not function as well as healthy lung tissue does. This means your lungs cannot draw in oxygen or filter impurities and toxins as they used to and it may cause shortness of breath. Another complication with acid reflux breathing problems can be the development or worsening of existing asthma. When this occurs it is not easily reversed, and can seriously impact on your quality of life.
In order to help prevent acid from reaching your lungs and giving you acid reflux related breathing problems, major modifications are required in the way you eat and how you sleep.
Firstly, avoiding heavy meals, and eating your last meal at least 3 hours before going to bed can have a positive impact on acid reflux symptoms. Also, eating smaller meals with the additions of snacks throughout the day rather than 3 large meals will keep your digestive system moving and avoid a build up of acid in the stomach. Eating large meals puts your stomach under pressure to digest the food eaten, which means that more stomach acid is produced and the lower esophageal sphincter muscle at the top of the stomach can be placed under pressure, weaken and open, allowing acid to escape into the esophagus.
The position you sleep in can also have an impact on whether acid can aspirate into the lungs. When sleeping you should elevate your upper body, either by placing a wedge under your mattress or pillow that lifts your head at least six inches higher than your waist and hips, or by placing blocks under the head end of the bed. Sleeping in this elevated position can reduce the risk of acid refluxing and being aspirated into your lungs while you sleep.
If you suspect that you have developed acid reflux breathing problems, you should contact your doctor at once. Suffering from related breathing complications is an indication that your acid reflux is not under control, and that you may be at risk for even bigger health problems in the future. Your breathing difficulties may not be acid reflux related, but you should always find out what is causing your breathing problems so that the suitable treatment can be sought.
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