Natural Relief For Acid Reflux and GERD
Looking for a drug-free option for your nighttime acid reflux symptoms? Using an acid reflux pillow is a simple yet effective way to relieve symptoms of this painful digestive disorder and ensure a peaceful night’s sleep.
Untreated acid reflux and heartburn can lead to ulcers and permanent damage to the esophagus, and can even increase the risk of esophageal cancer. That’s why it’s important to nip symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) in the bud as soon as they start.
I’ve listed the very best wedge pillows for acid reflux below, as well as other useful tips and ideas for preventing and treating your symptoms.
Acid Reflux and GERD
Acid reflux refers to the sour acid that can sometimes creep up from your stomach and go into your mouth or throat.
It’s not uncommon to experience acid reflux and heartburn, especially after eating spicy foods or a large meal. However, if you experience these two conditions at least twice per week, then you may have a more serious problem known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.
GERD is a digestive disorder that affects the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES is a ring of muscles between the esophagus and stomach. These muscles are normally taut, keeping the opening from your stomach to your esophagus closed.
When you eat or drink something, the muscles relax so the food or liquid can travel down into your stomach. They then tighten once the contents reach the stomach.
In people with GERD, however, the muscles are weak or relax irregularly. This prevents the LES from closing completely, allowing stomach contents to come back up into the throat.
The condition is more likely to develop in people who are pregnant or overweight. It may also affect people who have certain health conditions, such as asthma or diabetes.
The prolonged acid reflux associated with GERD can cause irritation and inflammation in the esophagus, leading to a condition called esophagitis. Esophagitis may make it difficult or painful to swallow.
When left untreated, GERD can also damage your esophageal lining and cause esophageal ulcers. This may result in bleeding, narrowing of the esophagus, or Barrett’s esophagus.
Some common treatments for GERD include antacids, prescription medications (H2 blockers or proton pump inhibitors), and surgery.
However, there are also several lifestyle changes that can help you find relief from your symptoms.
If you often experience GERD symptoms at night, you will likely benefit from using a GERD wedge pillow.
How a Wedge Pillow Helps Acid Reflux
The way that acid reflux and GERD wedge pillows work is simple.
Acid can leak out of the stomach and into the esophagus more easily when a person is sleeping on their back and using a standard pillow. A wedge pillow slightly elevates the head, shoulders, and torso to prevent this from happening.
When the upper body is elevated, gravity makes it less likely for stomach contents to come back up into the esophagus.
You can use a wedge pillow while sleeping on your side or on your back without causing any tension in the head or neck. Most pillows on the market are elevated between 30 to 45 degrees, or six to eight inches at the top.
Wedge pillows for acid reflux and GERD are sturdy and ergonomically designed.
As time passes, however, they will lose their shape and firmness. You will likely have to replace your wedge pillow with another one after several years.
Risks and Side Effects – None!
Unlike other treatments for acid reflux and GERD, including medications, there are no risks or side effects associated with wedge pillows. You can simply decide to try another type of wedge pillow or to stop using one completely if you don’t like it.
Best Wedge Pillows for Acid Reflux
The following wedge pillows are the best-selling and best-reviewed by consumers.
Medslant Acid Reflux Wedge Pillow
Medslant’s Acid Reflux Wedge Pillow is one of the best wedge pillows for GERD. It prevents acid from rising through the esophagus and keeps the airways open to facilitate easy breathing.
This USA-made, hypoallergenic bed wedge for GERD features a memory foam overlay and a washable microfiber cover for comfort and hygiene. At 28 inches wide, this pillow offers plenty of room to spread out while you sleep.
- A good height for comfort and symptom relief
- Large size
- High-quality materials
- The foam may be too firm for some users
Xtra Comfort Bed Wedge
Relieve acid reflux, neck pain, and back pain with the Xtra-Comfort Bed Wedge. Suitable for use in any bed, this pillow is both comfortable and supportive thanks to a high-density memory foam filling that contours to your body shape.
It also features a convenient carry handle and a soft cover that is removable, washable, and breathable.
- Can be used under the head, back, or legs
- Supportive shape contours to the body
- 60-day unconditional guarantee
- Pillow angle may take some getting used to
InteVision Foam Wedge Bed Pillow
With its two-layer-design, the InteVision Foam Wedge Pillow with Removable Cover deserves a place on any list of the best bed wedges for acid reflux.
Features include a memory foam layer, firm base layer, channels for air circulation, and a machine-washable cover. In addition to treating acid reflux, this product is suitable for those who snore, have allergies, poor circulation, or neck pain.
- Sturdy and well made
- Supportive and comfortable
- Treats acid reflux, breathing difficulties, and poor circulation
- May slip on the bed (depending on sheet type)
FitPlus Bed Wedge
The FitPlus Bed Wedge for GERD is topped with one-and-half-inches of memory foam to contour to your body shape. It offers high levels of support, and its gradual slope ensures a comfortable sleep.
The cover is removable for easy cleaning, and the pillow comes with a two-year warranty and 60-day satisfaction guarantee.
- Comfortable elevation for acid reflux
- Removable cover for easy cleaning
- 2-year warranty for peace of mind
- May not be comfortable for those with lower back pain
Drive Medical Folding Bed Wedge
Not only is it one of the best acid reflux pillows, Drive Medical’s Folding Bed Wedge is one of the only portable bed wedges for acid reflux on the market. It folds in half for easy storage and transport, and features a carry handle for traveling.
You can choose from one of three wedge heights for customized comfort.
These pillows are also suitable for use in the treatment of respiratory or circulation problems, as well as for back and neck pain.
- Foldable for easy transport and storage
- Gradual incline eases heartburn
- Available in a choice of 3 heights (7”, 10”, and 12”)
- Quite a firm pillow
Relax Home Life Bed Wedge Pillow
Blending polyester and bamboo, the Relax Home Life Acid Reflux Pillow for adults is hypoallergenic, dust-mite resistant, comfortable, and supportive.
This wedge pillow eases the symptoms of a variety of medical problems thanks to its two-layer design that molds to any style of sleeper. The bamboo also keeps your body cool throughout the night, aiding sleep.
- Soft and comfortable
- 100% lifetime warranty
- Hypoallergenic bamboo cove
- Due to the way the pillow is packed, it can take some time after opening to regain its true shape
Mabis Foam Bed Wedge
The Mabis Foam Bed Wedge is made of high-quality foam that retains its shape over the years. With a twelve-inch rise and an angle of 30-degrees, you can use this pillow to elevate your head to treat acid reflux, or to lift your legs to boost blood to the brain.
You can also be use the Mabis to stop snoring, encourage recovery after leg surgery, and alleviate pregnancy symptoms.
- Firm and maintains shape well
- High-quality materials with a washable cove
- May be too short for very tall people or those with very long torsos
Brentwood Home Pfeiffer Therapeutic Gel Foam Wedge Pillow
The Brentwood Home Pfeiffer Therapeutic Gel Foam Wedge Pillow provides the perfect level of support for those with acid reflux.
Its gradual slope and one-inch layer of gel-infused memory foam ensure you’re comfort throughout the night. The soft stretch knit cover is removable and washable.
- Made with gel-infused memory foam to conform to your shape
- Soft and comfortable cover
- Versatile—can be used to elevate the chest or legs
- Some of these pillows initially have a strong odor from the manufacturing process
Avana Back Wedge Pillow
The Avana Back Wedge Pillow with Bamboo Cover gently lifts the torso to a height of seven inches and provides a comfortable sleeping surface.
Available in three sizes, this wedge is made with high-quality materials and includes a layer of memory foam. The soft, removable cover is machine-washable and antimicrobial.
- Antimicrobial and hypoallergenic
- Comfortable yet firm
- Removable, antimicrobial cover
- The pillow’s size makes it difficult to store
AERIS Memory Foam Bed Wedge for Acid Reflux
- Lifetime free replacement guarantee
- Unique curved shape
- 100% memory foam for comfort and support
- Cover tends to attract dust
Original Bamboo Bed Wedge
Original Bamboo’s versatile wedge pillow is made of memory foam, and includes hypoallergenic bamboo fibers woven into the pillow to reduce odors and bacterial growth.
Use this pillow to treat everything from acid reflux to restless leg syndrome. If you don’t like it, take advantage of the manufacturer’s 60-day refund policy.
- 60-day guarantee
- Made with hypoallergenic bamboo foam
- Also useful for restless legs and pregnancy pains
- Bottom edge could be more tapered for lower back comfort
MedCline Advanced Positioning Wedge
- The arm pocket allows for a comfortable side-sleeping position
- Uses four types of medical-grade foam, strategically placed for maximum support and product longevity
- Won’t slide down on the bed
- Shorter users found it too large
Lifestyle Factors and GERD
Obesity is the leading cause of GERD. Extra stomach fat places pressure on your abdomen, pushing gastric juices up into your esophagus. Lose weight if you’re overweight, and don’t gain weight if you’re not (easier said than done, I know).
Avoid Foods Thought to Cause Acid Reflux
If you’re at risk for GERD, avoid:
- Fatty foods
- Spicy foods
- Acidic foods, like tomatoes and citrus
- Coffee or any caffeinated beverage
- Carbonated beverages
Eat Small Meals
Large meals fill the stomach and put pressure on the LES, making reflux and GERD more likely.
Don’t Lie Down After Eating
Wait at least three hours before you lie down after a meal. Gravity normally helps keep acid reflux from developing. When you eat a meal and then stretch out for a nap, you’re taking gravity out of the equation. As a result, acid more easily presses against the LES and flows into the esophagus.
Review Your Medications
There are a number of medications that can increase your risk of GERD, either by relaxing the LES, interfering with the digestive process, or further irritating an already inflamed esophagus.
These medications include:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs
- Calcium channel blockers (often used to treat high blood pressure)
- Certain asthma medications, including beta-agonists like albuterol
- Anticholinergics, medications used to treat conditions such as seasonal allergies and glaucoma
- Bisphosphonates, used to boost bone density
- Sedatives and painkillers
- Some antibiotics
- Iron tablets
If you are taking any of these medications, talk to your doctor about switching to another drug that does not have the same effect on the upper digestive tract. However, never stop taking a prescribed medication without first consulting your doctor.
Cut Back on Alcohol
As with smoking, alcohol can cause the LES to relax, and may be a risk factor for GERD. Alcohol can also cause the esophageal muscles to spasm.
Wear Loose-Fitting Clothes
Don’t wear tight clothing or belts that can constrict your stomach. The stomach lies between the belly button and the breastbone. Tight clothes put pressure on the stomach. As a result, they cause stomach acid to move up towards the esophagus, causing acid reflux.
Try a Gluten-Free Diet
At least one study has found that gluten, a protein found in grains like barley, rye, and wheat, may cause or exacerbate GERD symptoms. Try eliminating gluten from your diet and see if it makes a difference.
If after trying the above tips, you are still experiencing GERD, see your doctor; there are medications you can take to ease your symptoms.
Elevating your head during sleep is an effective lifestyle treatment for GERD. The Mayo Clinic suggests that you insert a wedge between your mattress and box spring to elevate your body from the waist up if it isn’t possible to elevate the head of your bed. Just using additional ordinary pillows isn’t effective.
To review, other lifestyle remedies for acid reflux and GERD include:
- eating smaller meals
- avoiding foods that trigger heartburn and other symptoms
- not lying down for at least three hours after eating
- maintaining a healthy weight
- limiting alcohol consumption
- quitting smoking
Of course, you should speak with your doctor on how you can further relieve your GERD symptoms.
Do you have some tips for preventing or relieving acid reflux and GERD? Share your comment below!