Chances are you’ve heard of the term “acid reflux,” especially since you are visiting RefluxMD.
Most people have experienced burning chest pain after eating spicy or acidic food at least once. However, one of every five Americans suffers from chronic heartburn.
But heartburn isn’t the only reflux related condition that affects adults. Another condition, called laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR), causes a variety of symptoms to both the throat and the nasal passages.
Many people suffering from LPR are unaware of this condition, and in some cases have never even heard of it. For this reason, LPR is often called “silent acid reflux” or “silent reflux” for short.
Let’s take a closer look at how you can identify silent acid reflux and treat its symptoms.
What is Silent Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid travels into your esophagus. For those with chronic reflux, this is due to weak lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The result is typically a burning pain in the stomach and throat.
By contrast, the cause of silent acid reflux is stomach acid that flows into the airway, including the voice box, sinuses, and nose. For this to happen, both the LES and the upper esophageal sphincter are failing in their function. This causes a variety of symptoms, such as hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, coughing, and difficulty breathing.
If left untreated, silent acid reflux can cause long-term damage to the vocal cords. Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer (adenocarcinoma) can also result from long-term acid reflux.
Since many of the symptoms of silent acid reflux affect the respiratory system, many people wrongly assume they have a sinus problem or some allergy. If you have any of these symptoms for over a month, it is important that you get a proper diagnosis.
Diet changes to relieve silent acid reflux?
If you’ve been diagnosed with silent reflux, or believe that you have some of the symptoms, there are steps you can take to get relief.
Monitor Your Diet. People have different dietary triggers that can cause reflux. For instance, some people report more symptoms after eating spicy foods. Others have more problems with acidic foods, like tomato sauce or citrus. We encourage you to read our highly acclaimed article titled 5 effective steps to an acid reflux diet.
To manage your silent reflux, consider keeping a food diary. Then, when you experience symptoms, you can review what you ate just before the onset of the symptoms. This will help you identify your trigger foods, so you know what to avoid.
Avoid Fat. Fatty foods are a known cause of reflux. This is because the fats in these foods take longer to digest and they delay the process of acid emptying from your stomach. To cut fat out of your diet, choose lean proteins, like chicken and fish. Whole grains are also a good choice.
Watch What You’re Drinking. In addition to the food you eat, the beverages you drink can also lead to silent acid reflux. It’s a good idea to avoid carbonated beverages, as these can irritate your stomach. The same goes for caffeine. Also, avoid drinks like orange juice and tomato juice, which contain a lot of acids.
Alcohol can also worsen reflux. Alcohol is not only a trigger food, but it will also weaken the lower esophageal sphincter.
Drink Something Soothing. While some beverages can trigger reflux symptoms, others can help relieve them. For instance, many kinds of tea can help reduce reflux symptoms. Caffeine-free teas like chamomile are particularly good choices.
Try honey. Adding honey to your tea can also help provide extra relief. This is a good choice if your silent reflux symptoms include hoarseness and coughing. Honey will soothe your throat, and help relieve these symptoms.
Lifestyle changes to relieve silent acid reflux
Lose Weight. One of the biggest risk factors for reflux is excessive weight and obesity. Research studies have proven that losing weight can reduce your symptoms of reflux. Also, losing weight is beneficial to your overall health. You’ll get the bonus of being at a lower risk for diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Our weight loss program, Scale Down for Relief, has found that GERD symptoms will cease following a simple diet formula and achieving a body mass index (BMI) of 24 or less.
Engage in Moderate Exercise. In addition to helping you lose weight, moderate exercise can also limit the severity of your reflux. That said, it’s important to make sure not to overdo it. Intense exercise like running and weight lifting can trigger reflux by irritating your digestive system. Instead, focus on incorporating 20-30 minutes of light exercises, such as walking or cycling, into your day.
Eat Smaller Meals. Overeating is another potential trigger for silent acid reflux. This is because, when you overeat, your stomach produces more acid. It also takes longer for your body to digest long meals, which means the acid will stay in your stomach longer. So, instead of eating one or two large meals a day, consider eating more, smaller meals several times during the day. This will be easier for your body to digest the food, and thereby limit acid production and your symptoms.
Don’t Sleep Immediately After Eating. We’ve all experienced “carb crash,” or the feeling of sleepiness after eating a large meal. But taking a nap right after eating, or eating a meal right before bed, can trigger reflux symptoms.When you assume the prone position in bed, acid can flow horizontally directly into your esophagus and the nasal passages. We recommend sleeping your left side and raising the headboard of your bed by 7 inches or consider purchasing a mattress device` to perform those functions. Avoid eating for at least 3 hours before bedtime
Take a walk after you eat. Instead of taking a nap after a meal, consider taking a walk to help digestion.
Quit Smoking. In addition to causing diseases like emphysema and cancer, smoking can also aggravate symptoms of reflux. This is especially true for people who suffer from a chronic cough caused by silent acid reflux. Smoking limits production of saliva, which protects your stomach and esophagus from acid. It also relaxes the LES, which will result in more reflux and symptoms. So, if you didn’t already have enough reasons to quit smoking, consider the benefit of eliminating your reflux symptoms.
Don’t Wear Tight Clothing. It can be tempting to try to squeeze into a pair of skinny jeans for a night out. But tight clothes aren’t just uncomfortable. This type of clothing can lead to reflux. This is especially true for clothes that put pressure around your midsection. This will then put pressure on your stomach resulting in more pressure on your diaphragm and your LES.
Taking the Next Step
If you believe that you’re suffering from silent acid reflux or GERD, then its time to get a good diagnosis from a GERD expert. Too many sufferers only see their primary care physician, who can not diagnose this disease, or determine if the disease has advanced to a more serious condition. And finally, don’t look for a “silver bullet” medication; but rather, take a comprehensive approach to treating your silent acid reflux.