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How an Orthopedic Sleeping Wedge Helps GERD Pain

written by: Kimberly Johnson • edited by: Emma Lloyd • updated: 6/19/2010

Using an orthopedic sleeping wedge for GERD helps to alleviate mild to moderate acid reflux disease symptoms at night.

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    What is GERD?

    Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease is more commonly referred to as GERD, acid reflux or heartburn. It is a condition in which the lower muscle of the esophagus has weaken and no longer restricts acid from moving out of the stomach back up into the esophagus. According to WedMD, over 60 million people in the United States suffer from GERD symptoms at least once per month with 25 million people suffering symptoms on a daily basis.

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    Symptoms of GERD

    There are a variety of symptoms associated with GERD, but they all occur within several hours of finishing a meal. The most common of acid reflux disease symptoms is a burning feeling in the chest that rises upward into the throat area. Some individuals with extreme GERD will even have a bitter taste in their mouth as the acid makes it way all the way up the esophagus.

    Acid reflux disease symptoms can last for up to two hours after they first begin and thus cause serious discomfort and disruption of lifestyle to the sufferer.

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    Positional Therapy Using an Orthopedic Sleeping Wedge

    Because acid reflux is the result of a weak esophagus muscle, GERD symptoms are worsened when the individual lies down flat. For that reason most people are advised by their physicians to stay upright for at least two to three hours after eating. This is not always feasible when it is time to go to bed. Although some oral medications can help to relieve nighttime symptoms of GERD, positional therapy is effective as well. Positional therapy involves the use of a special sleeping pillow in the shape of a wedge.

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    How to Use an Orthopedic Sleeping Wedge for GERD

    Orthopedic sleeping wedges are made of soft, rubberized foam and some are made of memory foam material that conforms to the body. Orthopedic sleeping wedges are positioned with the thickest part towards the head and the sloped section pointed downward. Using an orthopedic sleeping wedge for GERD elevates the upper body region so that the head and throat are positioned approximately 6 to 8 inches above the lower body.

    Even though patients can choose to sleep on their back, many find that sleeping on their left side is the position that achieves the best alleviation of symptoms.

    It’s important for GERD suffers to use a specially designed sleeping wedge rather than just stack up pillows, as the pillows do not create the proper slope necessary to control the acid reflux.

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    How Sleeping Wedges Improve Acid Reflux Disease Symptoms

    By keeping the upper portion of the body elevated the sleeping wedge uses the force of gravity to help keep the stomach acid from rising up through the weakened portion of the esophagus. Gravity pushes down on the stomach contents and keeps them inside the stomach. Sleeping wedges are most effective at controlling the symptoms of mild to moderate acid reflux symptoms and are often used in conjunction with other oral medications.