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Does Heartburn Keep You Up at Night?

Most people are aware when heart ache keeps them up at night, but heartburn is also a common cause of sleep disturbance.  According to a survey from the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA), nearly eight out of 10 heartburn sufferers experience symptoms at night.  Three out of four heartburn sufferers say that nighttime symptoms keep them from falling asleep or wake them up from sleep.  As a result, four out of 10 heartburn sufferers say that this impacts their ability to work the next day.  How many people does this affect?  About 45 million.  That's a lot of drowsy people out and about, including on the road.

Nighttime heartburn not only interrupts sleep, but also has more of a damaging effect on the esophagus than daytime heartburn.  This can lead to many damaging conditions, including esophageal cancer.   In fact, a study from the New England Journal of Medicine showed that people who have nighttime heartburn symptoms are 11 times more likely to develop esophageal cancer than those who do not.  Unfortunately, more than half of those who experience heartburn have it day and night.  Of those who have day and nighttime heartburn, half say that their nighttime symptoms affect them more than daytime symptoms. 

The AGA survey found that nearly three out of four heartburn sufferers currently take some sort of medication for their heartburn symptoms, but nearly half of those report that their current treatments do not relieve their symptoms.

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Created: 4/12/2001  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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