Heating pads are a common and well-known category of heat therapy. As you must know, they relieve cramps, stomach pain, and muscle stiffness in different parts of your body (especially the stomach). So it is understandable why you might assume that its healing properties will also relieve your excruciating reflux pain.
However, acid reflux is a disease that requires close attention, and assumptions are certainly not a reliable source.
If you are looking for a definite answer to whether heating pads can help with acid reflux, then keep reading.
Can a Heating Pad Help With Acid Reflux?
The lower esophageal sphincter is a muscle ring connecting the bottom of the esophagus and stomach. Acid reflux is a digestive disorder where the sphincter muscle disrupts and leads to the leakage of stomach acids in your food pipe. This causes a burning sensation in your chest, which further causes severe chest pain, asthma, and other GERD symptoms.
Frequent heartburn indicates chronic acid reflux, i.e., gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Have you often heard people complain that their acid reflux worsens in summer? It’s because the blazing heat affects the gastric glands in your body and causes acid production to double up.
However, you’d be happy to learn this is not the case with a heating pad.
Its natural soothing properties and warmth can help with acid reflux.
Keep reading to know how exactly they help.
Read also: Best Cereal For Acid Reflux
How Does a Heating Pad Help With Acid Reflux?
By Promoting Movement In Your Digestive Tract
Acid reflux affects your digestive system and slows it down. The stomach contents remain unprocessed, catch bacteria and add to the existing acids. The increase in stomach contents worsens the probability of acid reflux.
A heating pad helps in this situation by relaxing the stiffness of your stomach muscles. The heat will also promote elasticity, encouraging movement in your digestive tract. Food will be digested quickly, and symptoms of acid reflux will decrease.
You can also place the heating pad on the outer intestines, relaxing the muscles and enabling them to function better. Digestion and bowel movement will improve, and the risk of GERD will reduce noticeably.
This method can help with a normal upset stomach too. Just place the pad on the hurting area and wait for about 15 minutes.
Tip: The heating pad works best when you lay down but considering that acid reflux is an acute condition, you should try lying down in a gerd-friendly position, e.g., laying in an upright position or elevating the head of your bed.
Read also: Is Corn Bad For Acid Reflux?
By Improving Blood Circulation
The most common thing that a heating pad contains is warm water and sodium acetate. The hot water will work as a vasodilator and dilate your vessels, improving blood circulation. You must be wondering what blood circulation has to do with acid reflux.
Heat can help with acid reflux in several ways. For instance, if the heating pad is placed on the abdomen, the blood vessels will open (dilate) and encourage better gastrointestinal movement. This will reduce both the symptoms of indigestion and heartburn symptoms.
Unfortunately, people with acid reflux are more likely to develop heart disease or even have a heart attack than others. This is because GERD causes plaque buildup in arteries and reduces blood flow. Something as simple as a heating pad can decrease its probability because the warm compress will relax those muscles and stimulate blood flow to your heart.
This will accelerate the healing process, and severe symptoms will subside.
A Heating Pad Relieves Acid Reflux Symptoms
Acid reflux can cause discomforting symptoms and excruciatingly sharp pain, and even so, the best treatment is to take pain medication. A heating pad can help with such symptoms as well.
- Back pain
Symptoms of heartburn are intense, and they can affect internal organs vastly. You might have noticed that different body parts have hurt more frequently since developing GERD. This is because the pain can radiate from your esophagus to your lower back, but the good news is that you can reduce it by applying a heating pad.
Its soothing warmth will comfort you and decrease the pain.
- Chest pain
Other than that, acid reflux can also cause asthma problems. The severity of the symptoms may range from chronic cough, difficulty breathing, and severe pain in the upper chest. A heating pad can reduce reflux-induced chest pain because the heating properties will comfort the muscles.
Caution: heat can be a trigger for many patients, so if you are one of them, make sure to stay away from any heat-related therapy. You should seek medical help to ensure the best treatment.
- Abdominal pain
One of the most common symptoms of acid reflux is upper abdominal pain, which is hurtful and discomforting. This pain comes in sort of stomach cramps, and it can be reduced by taking prescription medications, counter antacids, and other precautions such as weight loss. A heating pad can help abundantly, too, because its warmth will relax the tension in muscles. You can place it on the part of the stomach that’s hurt; after 15-20 minutes, the pain will be noticeably alleviated.
Read also: Can Acid Reflux Get In Your Lungs? An Expert Explains
Potential Side Effects Of Using a Heating Pad
There is no doubt that a heating pad can help you greatly, but you should keep in mind that excess of anything is wrong, so if you keep using it without considering its possible side effects, the following problems can occur.
- Placing it on one body part for an extended period can cause skin burns and painful rash.
- If the pad is too hot and the barrier isn’t protective enough, then contact burns are a common risk.
- A heating pad can cause stomach inflammation and swelling, worsening the symptoms and increasing the pain rather than relieving it.
- Decreased blood pressure is a common side effect of using heating pads too often.
Precautions To Take Before Using a Heating Pad
A heating pad can help work effectively, so awareness of potential risks might not be persuasive enough to turn you against it.
However, you can try to avoid the side effects by following some necessary precautions.
- Most heating pads have a maximum temperature of 120 degrees, but setting it in the range of 95-105 is highly recommended.
- Direct contact shouldn’t be made, so always ensure a layer of fabric between the heating pad and your skin.
- Do not keep it on one part of your body for longer than 15-20 minutes.
- Do not use it every night because it can cause skin inflammation
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Are there any heating pad alternatives?
If you don’t have a heating pad, there is no need to worry because the following alternatives are just as effective.
You can use a hot towel, heat wrap, warm cloth, hot water bottle, or even a heated sock filled with grain rice.
Is warm water good for acid reflux?
Surrounding yourself with warm water in a bath or compress can be productive for acid reflux. Warmth will relax your muscles, soothe your reflux flare-up, and assist digestion.
What are the types of heating pads?
Several heating pad variations include electrical, chemical, infrared, and liquid/gel pads. However, infrared is said to be much more effective than standard ones.
Read also: Does Pumpkin Cause Acid Reflux?
Can a Heating Pad Help With Acid Reflux Summary
To put it comprehensively, a heating pad can most certainly help with acid reflux because the natural healing properties of heat are immensely beneficial.
Even though heat and warmth aren’t recommended for GERD patients, the heating pad is a safe option.
It is always recommended to consult a medical professional who can consider your history and symptoms before suggesting ultimate treatments.
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