Heartburn — it’s one of the telltale signs that you are suffering from acid reflux. But did you know that it’s possible for you to have acid reflux without experiencing that burning or painful sensation in your chest? It’s what doctors are calling silent reflux, and it can be more dangerous than acid reflux as it can go undetected for a long time.
If you have a sore throat, persistent cough and trouble with swallowing and breathing and the doctor you approached cannot seem to pin down the cause, read on!
Silent reflux is called as such because it doesn’t have the classic symptoms of acid reflux. Individuals who suffer from acid reflux know very well that they are having a bout of it due to heartburn, which is oftentimes mistaken for a heart attack as it can sometimes cause a squeezing sensation in or even tightening of the chest.
Other common symptoms of acid reflux include a sour or metallic taste in the mouth, difficulty in or frequent burping, nausea, and sometimes vomiting. However, these symptoms may not be around during a silent reflux attack.
Because of this, silent reflux can go on and on without your doctor knowing about it. With the absence of the classic symptoms of acid reflux, it can be very easy for both patient and doctor to wonder what is really going on.
It’s exactly for this reason why silent reflux is generally considered as more dangerous than acid reflux — without the usual telltale signs, doctors may fail to treat the root cause. Time will come when some of the damages caused by silent reflux can become so severe that they are already irreversible.
The larynx — it’s the part of the body that silent reflux targets. Also sometimes known as the voice box, stomach acids may climb up the esophagus and reach and irritate it, causing some of the symptoms associated with silent reflux. These silent reflux symptoms usually include:
A sore throat
The sensation of having a lump in the throat
Excess mucus in the throat
Trouble with swallowing
Trouble with breathing
As you can see, none of the symptoms of silent reflux are associated with acid reflux — there is no heartburn, a sour or metallic taste in the mouth, or nausea and vomiting.
Both children and adults can suffer from silent reflux. Doctors say that it is actually very common in kids since their lower esophageal sphincter or LES — the bundle of muscles at the lower end of the esophagus that keeps the contents of the stomach from going in the opposite direction — remains undeveloped.
Children with silent reflux may suffer from sinusitis and an ear infection. At times it may cause the narrowing of their vocal cords, which can result in the permanent change in the voice.
In adults, silent reflux that is undetected and untreated may actually increase the risk of laryngeal cancer due to the constant irritation the larynx or voice box gets. If you have asthma, bronchitis or emphysema, suffering from silent reflux can exacerbate the problem. Doctors say that silent reflux may cause a host of lung-related issues to strike.
If you believe that you are suffering from silent reflux that your current doctor doesn’t know about, it’s a good idea for you to consider seeing a gastroenterologist, in particular one who has sufficient knowledge about silent reflux and actual experience with treating this form of acid reflux that can be challenging to identify.
Just like acid reflux, silent reflux is commonly treated with the use of certain drugs that reduce the production of stomach acids. It is also tackled with some very important lifestyle and dietary changes.