Do Acid Reflux Pillows Really Work?

Acid reflux can cause extreme discomfort, especially at night. If you suffer from it, you might have tried eating less before bed or limiting your coffee intake. Could the answer to your pain lie in your choice of pillows?

When acid reflux happens at least twice a week, it's known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), according to theĀ Mayo Clinic. When you have GERD, the band of muscle that keeps the bottom of the esophagus closed relaxes or becomes weak, allowing stomach acid to enter the esophagus. The lining becomes irritated and can cause a burning sensation in the chest, chest pain, difficulty swallowing, regurgitation of food, and the feeling of a lump in the throat. Reflux can be worse at night, causing chronic cough, hoarse voice, asthma, and sleep disruption.

Avoiding certain foods can help, like citrus fruits, spicy foods, tomatoes, chocolate, and fried foods, perĀ Healthline. Over-the-counter medication, reducing stress, maintaining a healthy weight, and eating smaller, more frequent meals can also alleviate symptoms.

How the right pillow can alleviate symptoms

Medication isn't always a simple fix. Up to 30% of people who use medication still experience acid reflux, according to a 2017 study published in the journal United European Gastroenterology. Since lying down in bed allows stomach acid to flow more easily into the esophagus, acid reflux can be worse at night, especially if you've eaten a big meal. Using the right pillow might help.

Acid reflux pillows allow you to sleep with your upper body at an incline, alleviating acid backup (via Verywell Health). A study showed that using a wedge pillow at an incline of 30 degrees can reduce the amount of acid in the esophagus by 87%, with 97% of participants reporting improvement in their symptoms. While you could just use multiple regular pillows, this likely won't give you the amount of height you need for relief. Acid reflux pillows are more firm and heavier, so you stay elevated all night. Cost varies, but some are relatively inexpensive and may give you the relief you've been searching for.