FSA Insider: Ban the burn! How your FSA can put GERD to rest
Just a few years ago, I had no idea what a good night's sleep felt like. Thanks to a few years of poor diets and all-night excursions, waking up from acid reflux pain was a regular part of my routine.
Instead, I just accepted that heartburn and acid reflux were something I had to deal with through medicine … likely for the rest of my life. Sure, I took pills to fight off the discomfort -- and they definitely have their place -- but I wasn't listening to some very obvious advice.
And because of that, I didn't realize that my condition wasn't just heartburn, it was gastroesophageal reflux disease … we'll just call it GERD.
First, a super quick overview of GERD
GERD is a digestive disorder that affects the ring of muscles between the esophagus and stomach. These muscles are normally tight, but when you eat or drink, the muscles relax so food or liquid can enter your stomach, before closing off again.
In people with GERD, however, the muscles are weak, which allows stomach contents to come back up into the throat, leading to that extremely uncomfortable burning, sour sensation.
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. But there are some easy ways to help fight GERD symptoms:
- Eating smaller meals
- Avoiding spicy foods
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Limiting alcohol use
- Quitting smoking
- Elevating your head while you sleep
Most of these are fairly straightforward tips. But let's discuss that last one a little more.
Solving GERD... while you sleep?
This sounds a little silly, considering there are quality medications for acid reflux and GERD. But if stomach acid regularly escapes into your throat while lying horizontally, the best medicine might just be gravity.
By keeping the upper body -- specifically your head, shoulders and chest -- elevated, acid is less likely to work its way back up your throat, keeping your stomach contents where they belong.
But don't start putting your bed on cinder blocks just yet. By using a simple, ergonomically designed (and FSA-eligible) wedge pillow, you can comfortably raise your upper body up to eight inches above your mid-section, no matter if you're a back- or side-sleeper. By combining the incline with more natural sleep positioning, an elevated wedge pillow can offer drug-free, all-natural relief from GERD symptoms.
In other words, while you should definitely see a doctor about your GERD conditions, you should also seriously consider this simple, FSA-eligible solution for dealing with acid reflux. Not only can it relieve those awful nighttime symptoms, but you might just find yourself having your first restful night's sleep in a long time.