Reflux Guard

My journey of agonizing pain from acid reflux to relief

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Positioning the Esophagus

“Due to the anatomic factors that I discussed in the prior chapter, for some people who are more susceptible, problems can arise when you are in deep sleep (or REM sleep), and when you are on your back. Since all humans are susceptible to the tongue collapsing to various degrees, given the same situation, different people will obstruct more than others.

For example, if you have no problem sleeping on your back and you get a simple cold, your nose gets stuffed up and due to the vacuum pressures that are created downstream, your tongue can start to fall back, causing you to wake up frequently. This is the reason why you toss and turn when you have a cold. But once your cold goes away, you can catch up on your sleep, and you feel fine again.

Pregnant women, especially in the third trimester, typically don’t sleep well. This is not only because of the lack of mobility associated with the pregnancy itself, but also due to increased fat deposits in the throat at this time. The latter serves to narrow the airway, and creates breathing problems that did not exist prior to pregnancy.”

This is another installment of Dr. Park's book, "Sleep Interrupted", that explains the esophagus--a very complicated and fascinating part of our anatomy. It is the roadway for many bodily functions, but we often take it for granted until something goes wrong. We use it every moment from inhaling and exhaling to swallowing. Unfortunately, when the esophagus malfunctions, it can cause us anywhere from minor discomfort to agonizing misery.

In today's installment of "Sleep Interrupted" we will explore the simple complications involving how the position of the esophagus and breathing pathway can easily cause Acid Reflux, which, in turn, can cause damage to the esophagus.

The esophagus is basically a tube for eating, drinking, and breathing. If this tube closes down during sleep it can cause a vacuum in the stomach. This vacuum can interrupt the processing of the stomach contents and their natural progression downward and lift acid, bile, and other stomach contents back up into the esophagus. The power of this vacuum is such that even a healthy stomach and sphincter valve (the valve that keeps acid from entering the esophagus) may not keep the contents of the stomach in the stomach. When the stomach contents come up, it can cause severe damage to the esophagus and/or lungs, which can cause caustic burning and choking, that might even require hospitalization.

Please come back early next week for Part 2 of this topic or you can like us on facebook where you will be notified for each post - hope to hear from you.