Everyone is aware of acid reflux because it’s such a painful experience. But did you know that there’s something called silent reflux?
Not many people talk about it because they’re not aware of it. So what exactly is silent reflux and what can you do to get the treatment you need?
What is Silent Reflux?
Silent reflux is also known as laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR). It is a condition where acid from the stomach flows back up into the esophagus, into the larynx, and throat. Not many people know that they are experiencing silent reflux because there is no associated pain in the chest when this happens.
What Causes Silent Reflux?
During the process of digestion, food is kept in the stomach by a sphincter at the top of the organ. However, in some cases, this sphincter doesn’t close properly, resulting in stomach acid flowing back out and up into the esophagus.
There are certain risk factors that can result in the development of silent reflux. These include:
- Being overweight
- Wearing clothing that is too tight around the stomach
- Lying down after eating
- Alcohol and/or tobacco use
- Frequently eating fried and/or spicy foods
What Are the Symptoms?
Silent reflux does not have any chest-burning symptoms, making it very difficult to diagnose. However, it does come with other symptoms, including:
- Postnasal drip
- The sensation of a lump in the throat
- Bitter taste in the throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Sore/burning sensation in the back of the throat
- Chronic cough
- Excessive throat clearing
How to Diagnose?
You are most likely to receive a diagnosis from a throat specialist (called laryngologists). In the evaluation procedure, the doctor will conduct a physical exam, discuss your symptoms with you, and take a look at your personal history. Additional tests may also be conducted, such as an acid reflux test, an endoscopy, and a swallowing study.
An acid reflux test measures the amount of acid present in the fluid found inside the esophagus. An endoscopy involves the insertion of a long tube down your throat and esophagus that has a lighted camera on the end of it. Lastly, a swallowing study involves the ingestion of barium to see how food moves through the mouth and esophagus.
What is the Treatment of Silent Reflux?
If you are diagnosed, you don’t have to suffer alone. There are treatment options available that can help you relieve your symptoms. These include:
- H2 blockers: decreases the production of stomach acid
- Alginate therapy: alginate is a natural product found in seaweed that acts as a “raft” in the stomach, blocking the acid from exiting the stomach to the esophagus
- Proton pump inhibitors: reduces the production of stomach acid
- Antacids: neutralizes acidity in the stomach
Your doctor may also recommend weight loss, avoiding certain foods, and changing dietary habits in order to minimize silent reflux in the future.
Taking care of your body is essential to ensuring that it continues operating properly in the future. Even though silent reflux may not be incredibly painful, taking care of it as soon as possible is better than letting it control your life.
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