Silent reflux relieve symptoms naturally – dr. axe

Many people are pretty familiar with gastroesophageal reflux, or GERD. And they probably know about the burning heartburn and painful discomfort that can come with it. Not so many people have heard of silent reflux, though. It’s a closely related condition that is often misdiagnosed and left untreated.

Silent reflux, also known as laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR) or extraesophageal reflux disease (EERD), is a condition in which stomach acid and digestive enzymes flow from the stomach up to the laryngopharynx, the part of your throat that is above the esophagus — the long tube that reaches from your throat down to your stomach.

Silent reflux can take a major toll when it comes to quality of life. In fact, with chronic reflux, long-term damage can occur to the voice box, windpipes and throat.

Those with silent reflux sometimes suffer from reduced quality of sleep and limited social interactions due to voice changes. Over time, persistent laryngopharyngeal reflux may even increase the risk of cancer. ( 2)

When you eat, your food goes from your mouth into your esophagus and all the way down into your stomach. Once it’s reached your stomach, digestive enzymes and stomach acids are released to begin the process of breaking down the food and extracting its nutrients.

Each end of your esophagus has a sphincter, which helps to keep these acids and enzymes in your stomach where they belong. These are small bands of muscle that act as a valve to prevent acid from the stomach from entering up into the esophagus.

Silent reflux in babies and children is more prevalent because they spend more time lying down and have a shorter esophagus and undeveloped esophageal sphincters. Oftentimes, this will improve with age, though treatment is sometimes necessary.

Fortunately, there are many options for laryngopharyngeal reflux treatment that can help alleviate symptoms and prevent further damage and adverse side effects. From following a silent reflux/ GERD diet to making minor lifestyle modifications, most people can easily control and reduce symptoms.

In severe cases, surgery is sometimes recommended to reduce symptoms. The most common surgical procedure is fundoplication. This involves wrapping the upper part of the stomach around the lower end of the esophagus and sewing into place. This strengthens the lower esophageal sphincter and improves its ability to prevent the flow of acid from the stomach up to the laryngopharynx.

The problem with using silent reflux medication is that it is a temporary fix and may help reduce symptoms, but doesn’t necessarily treat the underlying root of the problem. Instead, making a few modifications to your diet and lifestyle can be effective at relieving symptoms and stopping silent reflux in its tracks.

High-fat foods like full-fat dairy products, fatty cuts of meat, fried foods and desserts take longer to digest and can slow stomach emptying. They may also relax the esophageal sphincter and allow stomach acid to enter the esophagus. Reducing your fat intake and limiting consumption of high-fat foods can help sidestep symptoms of silent reflux. ( 3)

However, keep in mind that some forms of exercise may actually induce reflux for some people. In one study, running was found to increase reflux while using a stationary bicycle caused the least reflux. Additionally, exercising shortly after eating worsened reflux to a greater extent. ( 6)

A recent 2017 study on silent reflux compared the effectiveness of patients treated with medication to those treated with a plant-based Mediterranean diet and alkaline water. They found that medications decreased symptoms by approximately 27 percent while dietary modifications reduced symptoms by a whopping 40 percent. ( 7)

A healthy, well-balanced diet with minimal processed foods can provide more fiber and nutrients, increase the amount of beneficial gut bacteria, and promote better digestive health to prevent reflux. A diet full of whole foods can also aid in weight loss, which may further decrease the risk of reflux.

Coffee, tea and soda are some of the most common sources of caffeine in the diet. If you find that these exacerbate your symptoms, you may want to consider eliminating them from your diet or opting for decaffeinated varieties of coffee or tea instead.

Planning nutrient-dense, portion-controlled snacks throughout the day is the easiest way to do this. Make sure your mini meals contain plenty of nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains with a good source of protein to optimize your intake.

High-fiber foods include non-citrus fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. Women should aim for at least 25 grams of fiber and men should eat at least 38 grams per day. Make sure to increase intake slowly. Also, drink plenty of water to avoid the negative digestive symptoms that can accompany sudden increases in fiber intake.

For some, surgery may also be necessary to correct a hiatal hernia, if one is present. This is a condition that causes the stomach to push up through the diaphragm, which could contribute to silent reflux. Hiatal hernias can cause symptoms like abdominal discomfort, belching, regurgitation and heartburn. If you think you have a hiatal hernia that could be causing your silent reflux, talk to your doctor about treatment options.

• However, making a few diet and lifestyle changes can also be effective. Eating a balanced diet, avoiding certain trigger foods, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can all reduce your risk of silent reflux and help lessen symptoms.