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The best sleeping position for COPD…

Posted Mar 28 2010 12:00am

From my search-engine slush pile “sleeping positions for COPD.”

Many years ago I was taught by a physiotherapist that the best sleeping position for any respiratory illness – I hadn’t graduated to COPD in those days – was the recovery position. Googling it is easier than having me describe it.

You’ll probably have to do as I did, and modify it a little to get comfortable, and you’ll have to work at it – it does require discipline – but it really does pay dividends.

There are two ways of further modifying it, to ameliorate the effects of GERD (acid reflux – once you’ve inhaled gastric acid you’ll be in no hurry to repeat it).

The first thing to do is sleep on your left side. This is because the oesophagus enters the stomach on the right of centre, so sleeping on your left encourages any acid to drain away from it. Like me you might prefer to sleep on your right. Tough – work at it.

The second thing is to buy a bed wedge, to keep your head and shoulders elevated.

If GERD is a problem – and it goes hand in hand with COPD for many people – then you’ll also need a PPI drug (Proton Pump Inhibitor, to reduce acid production), and a good antacid. I used to take Altacite Plus, better than Gaviscon in my view and a fraction of the price, and £3.50 or so for 500ml from any pharmacy (it’s kept in the pharmacy, so you’ll have to ask for it). These days a moderate intake of orange juice keeps my gastric acid under control. Try it, it really does work.

I first heard of it almost 30 years ago, when I read than drinking citrus juice alkalised the stomach. It sounded like rubbish and I ignored it – and had many more years of misery than I needed to.

I started drinking OJ about 3 months ago – about a pint a day initially. Now I drink far less – around 2 litres every 10 days or so, and I have no need to buy Altacite Plus any longer. I prefer Tropicana Smooth, but any squeezed OJ (not from concentrate but natural juice, without preservatives), should be fine. I even recommended it to a cynical friend, and it worked for her, too.

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