ZocdocAnswersIs it bad for your body to lie down after eating?

Question

Is it bad for your body to lie down after eating?

Sometimes after I eat I meal I lay down right away. Is this bad for my stomach? I get mild indigestion sometimes and I'm thinking that's why. Can you damage your stomach by doing this?

Answer

In general, going to bed right after eating can lead to heartburn, otherwise known as gastroesophageal reflux disease. Upon swallowing, food goes into the stomach after traveling through the esophagus. The connection between esophagus and stomach is not something that opens and closes only when you swallow. Gravity helps keep food in your stomach when you swallow, but in some patients there is a tendency for food to 'reflux' out of the stomach into the lower part of the esophagus. As you can imagine, if you lay immediately after a large meal, gravity is no longer helping your food move in the right direction and you can increase your chance of reflux. While heartburn symptoms can be painful and disturb sleep, the bigger problem with gastric reflux disease over a long period of time is that it can lead to changes in the esophagus that greatly increase a person's risk of developing esophageal cancer. If you are experiencing indigestion, it is best to see your primary care physician to discuss your symptoms. It may well be that your eating/sleeping patterns are contributing to your symptoms. However, your physician can take a more detailed history and exam and help suggest strategies to minimize both reflux and indigestion. There are several very effective medications to help treat reflux to minimize symptoms and longterm health risk.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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