Acid reflux is a common condition that most of us have experienced at one point or another. It happens when acid leaks up out of the stomach and into the esophagus. One of the telltale signs of acid reflux is a burning pain in your chest that can last for several hours.
However, some people experience chronic reflux without heartburn. This condition is referred to as laryngopharyngeal reflux or silent reflux.
Symptoms of Silent Reflux
Just because people with silent reflux don’t experience heartburn, it doesn’t mean they are without symptoms. Common signs of LPR include:
- Sore throat
- Feeling a lump in the back of your throat
- Chronic cough
- Hoarseness (it’s estimated that 55% of patients visiting otolaryngology clinics with hoarseness have LPR.)
- Respiratory problems like wheezing due to acid irritating your airway. It can also exacerbate asthma in those who have the condition.
- Tooth decay
Medical Treatment Options for Silent Reflux
If you experience symptoms of silent reflux, make an appointment with your medical provider. They will review your symptoms and may order certain tests, such as a barium swallow or an endoscopy, to look for structural problems that may be associated with LPR or any damage caused by persistent acid reflux.
If you have LPR, your doctor may prescribe proton pump inhibitors to reduce the amount of acid your stomach produces. In severe cases that don’t respond to medication, surgery to tighten the lower esophageal sphincter may be necessary.
Lifestyle Changes To Manage LPR
In addition to medication, your doctor will likely recommend certain lifestyle changes that may help you manage your silent reflux. One of the main recommendations will probably be a change in diet.
While not everyone has the same triggers, foods that are spicy, high in fat or fried should be avoided, at least temporarily, to see if that helps reduce your symptoms. Additionally, you’ll want to add foods to your diet that will be helpful. The next time you’re picking up groceries at Swiss Farms Market, make sure to add leafy greens, lean proteins and high-fiber foods to your list.
Other changes include:
- Eliminating caffeine and alcohol
- Quitting smoking
- Elevating the head of your bed when you sleep
- Stopping eating at least three hours before bed
- Sleeping on your left side
- Eating smaller meals
For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our experts, contact Pinnacle ENT today.