If you wake up every morning needing to hack up lots of thick mucus, or have throat pain or a chronic cough, you’re not alone. 

Frequently Asked Questions

You may think it’s the beginning of a cold, but a cold doesn’t continue for weeks to months without progressing into the full-blown viral symptoms. These symptoms are the beginning of the most common throat problem sleep apnea sufferer’s face. It can be one of the hardest problems to treat.

People with obstructive sleep apnea are more prone to breathing problems at night due to partial or total collapse of one or more areas of the entire upper airway. It’s usually worse when on your back, since the tongue can fall back more in this position. During deep sleep, your muscles naturally relax and you’ll be more susceptible to breathing stoppages. 

Pressure sensors placed inside sleep apnea patients reveal that every time an apnea occurs, a tremendous vacuum effect is created inside the chest and throat, which sucks up your normal stomach juices into your oesophagus and throat. This can happen occasionally, even for normal people, but if you happen to have a late meal or a snack just before bedtime, there will be even more stomach juices lingering in your stomach to come up into the throat. If you happened to drink a nightcap, the situation is even worse since alcohol is a strong muscle relaxant.

What comes up into your throat is not only acid, but also bile, digestive enzymes and even bacteria. Washings of lung, sinus and ear contents' have shown H. pylori, a common stomach bacteria, and pepsin, which is a major stomach digestive enzyme. This can cause severe irritation in your throat, provoking the mucous secreting glands of your throat to try to dilute these substances.

Although people generally attribute throat mucous to post-nasal drip, in most cases there’s nothing dripping down the back of the throat. It’s actually coming from your stomach. In some cases, since your stomach juices can reach your nose, it can cause nasal congestion and inflammation, which can aggravate tongue and soft palate collapse by creating a vacuum effect downstream. Chronic acid and other irritating substances lingering in your throat can have other detrimental effects. Chronic acid exposure can numb or deaden the protective chemoreceptors in your throat. 

These are sensors that detect any acid in the throat to prevent aspiration of your stomach contents into your lungs. If these chemoreceptors sense any acid in your throat, a feedback signal is sent to the brain, causing you to wake up so that you can swallow. This is what’s called a reflux arousal.

So besides not eating late and avoiding alcohol close to bedtime, what else can you do?

The problem is that no matter which option you choose, there will always be some degree of reflux. Taking acid reflux medications can help sometimes, but for the most part, these reflux medications don’t really do anything for reflux. All they do is to lower the acid content before it comes up into your throat.

WE recommend to treat your stomach acid naturally which will decrease the acid in your acid and heal your gut.  

Eating early at least 3-4 hours of bedtime is important. The same also applies to alcohol. If your nose is stuffy, talk to your Health Renewal doctor to find a way to breathe better through your nose or visit our page on breath better through your nose. Make sure you’re sleeping in your preferred or optimal sleep position and work with your sleep technician to fully optimize your sleep apnea treatment. 

Sharon Izak Elaine Chat staff