Background and aim: Nocturnal gastro-esophageal reflux causes heartburn and sleep disturbances impairing quality of life. Lifestyle modifications, like bed head elevation during sleep, are thought to alleviate the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux. We tested the hypothesis that bed head elevation might decrease recumbent acid exposure compared to sleeping in a flat bed.
Methods: Patients of symptomatic nocturnal reflux and documented recumbent (supine) reflux verified by esophageal pH test entered the trial. On day 1, baseline pH was measured while the patient slept on a flat bed. Then patients slept on a bed with the head end elevated by a 20-cm block for the next 6 consecutive days from day 2 to day 7. The pH test was repeated on day 2 and day 7. Each patient acted as his own control.
Results: Twenty of 24 (83.3%) patients with mean age of 36 ± 5.5 years completed the trial. The mean (± SD) supine reflux time %, acid clearance time, number of refluxes 5 min longer and symptom score on day 1 and day 7 were 15.0 ± 8.4 and 13.7 ± 7.2; P = 0.001, 3.8 ± 2.0 and 3.0 ± 1.6; P = 0.001, 3.3 ± 2.2 and 1.0 ± 1.2; P = 0.001, and 2.3 ± 0.6 and 1.5 ± 0.6; P = 0.04, respectively. The sleep disturbances improved in 13 (65%) patients.
Conclusions: Bed head elevation reduced esophageal acid exposure and acid clearance time in nocturnal (supine) refluxers and led to some relief from heartburn and sleep disturbance.
© 2011 Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology Foundation and Blackwell Publishing Asia Pty Ltd.