There are several possible connections between heartburn and fatigue. Certain conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can cause both painful heartburn symptoms and fatigue. This condition is a “cause and effect” connection because having frequent or especially troublesome heartburn may lead to a lack of sleep and resulting fatigue. The opposite may also be true. Those who suffer from chronic fatigue may be more likely to consume caffeinated beverages like soda or coffee, both of which can lead to heartburn.
Sleep apnea is a condition that can cause both heartburn and fatigue. It is characterized by periods during sleep where breathing stops momentarily. The person wakes up, often without realizing it, to take a breath. These periods of wakefulness throughout the night can lead to non-restorative sleep and fatigue. The ways in which it can contribute to heartburn is not entirely known, but it is a common symptom reported by those suffering from the condition.
Treatment for sleep apnea often includes losing weight, sleeping in a slightly upright position to improve airway flow, and possibly surgery on nasal passages to open the airways. Nasal strips can also be used to treat constricted passages. Patients are also frequently attached to a machine which supplies oxygen through a face mask.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is another common cause of heartburn and fatigue. It is the result of food from the stomach moving upward into the esophagus. This often leads to severe and long-term pain, resulting in a lack of sleep and fatigue. Treatments may include dietary changes, sleeping upright so gravity helps keep food down in the stomach, and taking prescription medications. In some cases, surgery may be performed on the esophageal sphincter muscles to prevent reflux from occurring.
Fatigue causing disorders, such as fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome, may also result in both heartburn and fatigue. This is because sufferers of long-term fatigue often consume foods and beverages that can cause heartburn and indigestion. These include carbonated drinks like sodas and caffeinated ones like coffee. They may also consume more processed foods, sweets, and carbohydrates in an attempt to gain more energy. This can result in heartburn and in turn, even greater fatigue.
Treatment will depend on the underlying condition. Medications, vitamins, and exercise are all possible treatment options. Some illnesses may also cause chronic fatigue, so sufferers should consult a physician for a medical evaluation.