What is silent reflux and what can I do about it?

Silent reflux is a condition in which stomach acid causes throat discomfort, especially behind the breastbone in the middle of the trunk. It does not always cause heartburn, but it can cause damage to the throat and vocal cords. The condition is always known as laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR). The contents of the stomach include stomach acids. When these acids make contact with the food pipe and vocal chords, irritation, discomfort, and burning can occur. A reflux action causes these uncomfortable sensations. Reflux refers to a backward or return flow. In LPR, stomach acid flows back into the esophagus and irritates the throat. LPR can develop in infants and adults. It is treatable.


Silent reflux can cause a cough and frequent throat-clearing. LPR has the name “silent reflux” due to not necessarily triggering the usual symptoms of acid reflux, such as heartburn. However, silent reflux can lead to hoarseness, frequent throat-clearing, and coughing. The condition develops when the stomach acid travels back through the food pipe and reaches the back of the throat.
The most common symptoms in adults include:
  • feeling like something is stuck in the throat
  • hoarseness
  • frequent throat clearing
  • coughing
  • a bitter taste at the back of the throat
  • difficulty swallowing
  • swelling and irritation of vocal cords
  • a sensation of post-nasal drip
  • breathing difficulties

Symptoms in children and infants

The symptoms of silent reflux in infants and children include:
  • coughing
  • vomiting
  • failure to grow and gain weight
  • asthma
  • a sore throat
  • hoarseness
  • noisy breathing
  • ear infections
  • feeding difficulties
  • turning blue
  • aspiration, or inhaling food and other particles into the lungs
It is common for infants to spit up, but problems with breathing and feeding could be signs of a more serious health problem. A doctor should investigate these symptoms. Children with silent reflux will not always vomit or regurgitate.
Researchers are currently exploring possible links between silent reflux in children and recurrent ear infections and sinusitis. Some symptoms, such as projectile vomiting or vomit that contains blood, could be indications of other health problems. Visit a health professional if these symptoms become evident. When acid reflux leads to persistent heartburn, occurring maybe twice a week for 3 weeks or more, this is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. Silent reflux, or laryngeal-pharyngeal reflux (LPR), is similar, but without the heartburn and indigestion.


Many adults manage to control symptoms by adjusting their eating habits and making lifestyle changes. Medications to treat silent reflux, such as antacids, are available over the counter (OTC). These can help prevent the acid from returning to the esophagus. Some of these medications are available online. Click here for an excellent range with thousands of customer reviews.
H2-blockers, a form of anti-histamine, might help, especially if a cough bothers the person at night. If antacids do not work, a doctor may prescribe a proton pump inhibitor (PPI), such as omeprazole, to reduce stomach acidity. A person with LPR can use these for between 4 weeks and 6 monthsTrusted Source.

In children

Reflux is common in children up to the age of 1 year, and only those who have difficulty feeding or breathing require treatment. Changing the feeding habits of the infant and using age-appropriate medication might help. In severe cases, or when another treatment has not been effective, tube feeding and surgery may be necessary.
Read the full article: Medical News Today

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