Throwing up in the mouth while asleep or overnight is not a literal vomiting up of contents from the stomach in the way you would after eating bad meat or from a bad reaction to a drug.

What’s really going on, when you throw up or “vomit” in the mouth during sleep?

“Regurgitation of food or fluid is caused by an excess of stomach acid,” begins Dr. Stacey Silvers, MD, of Madison ENT & Facial Plastic Surgery in NYC, who is board certified in otolaryngology; one of her specialties is sinus surgery.

Regurgitation is not the same as vomiting.

Regurgitation: backflow or reflux of undigested food that never reached the stomach.

Vomiting: forceful ejection of food that’s already in the stomach.

In both cases, though, the contents reach the mouth.

Dr. Silvers continues, “In most cases this excess is from eating and drinking too late at night and not allowing food to digest.”

So at some point overnight while you’re asleep, the regurgitation or—what many people call throwing up—occurs and ends up in your mouth, and the taste isn’t pretty.

Solutions to Throwing Up in the Mouth Overnight

“Avoiding late night eating and elevating the head of bed (or sleeping on a wedge) can resolve this issue,” says Dr. Silvers.

“Sometimes people can have a weak lower or upper esophageal sphincter which allows fluids and acid to leak through.

“Head of bed elevation and avoiding late night eating can help with sphincter issues as well, but occasionally [surgical} procedures may be necessary to tighten the weak sphincters.”

An NYC expert in ear, nose and throat care, Dr. Silvers has been named among America’s Top Physicians and Surgeons in facial plastic surgery and otolaryngology multiple times since 2003.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  

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