My name is Gerrit Sonnabend, and I struggled with LPR / silent reflux for over a decade.
I didn’t even realize I had reflux.
Despite numerous visits to various doctors, I was not diagnosed. Specialists said my symptoms were due to a pollen allergy. But I knew something wasn’t right, because I experienced symptoms throughout the year, no matter where I was. They didn’t even change when I moved to the Caribbean, where there is no pollen that I’m allergic to.
It was only by accident that I found an ENT (ear, nose and throat specialist) who diagnosed my silent reflux. At first, I couldn’t believe it. Reflux? My digestion was fine! I didn’t even have heartburn. But the moment I read up on the symptoms, I recognized they matched mine.
Professional Help Is Hard to Find
Unfortunately, this didn’t instantly translate into a solution. I thought that once I knew what the problem was, it shouldn’t be difficult to find treatment. I was wrong.
I couldn’t find a doctor who knew how to deal with LPR. All they offered me were PPIs (proton-pump inhibitors), even though I’d tried them and knew from experience that they didn’t help. Today I know why: they don’t address the root cause of the issue. In fact, studies on their effectiveness show that PPIs don’t work any better against silent reflux than a placebo!
I Had to Take Action
I knew I had to tackle the issue myself. Luckily, I work in the health sector, as a medical publisher (mostly in Germany). My formal background is in data science with a focus on qualitative research, which basically means I am great at collecting data using methods like expert interviews. My skillset helped me to track down every study, article, and review about LPR.
I also had the contacts to get in touch with leading experts in the field. I interviewed those experts on how they successfully treat patients with LPR.
Thanks to my Research, I Was Able to Overcome my Silent Reflux
What I discovered on LPR blew my mind. While there are a few good specialists, most doctors work with outdated information. There are treatments out there that work. However, most physicians do not know about them. And therefore they can’t help their silent reflux patients. They just prescribe the same old useless medication which might work for heartburn (in the short term) but not for silent reflux.
Dietary change is a particularly important part of the healing process, and is usually recommended for reflux. However, most reflux diet advice is very generic, designed to treat classic reflux symptoms like heartburn. Silent reflux is different, and needs a more specialized therapeutic approach, including when it comes to diet.
I wanted to help others in my situation, so I began publishing the information that enabled me to treat my reflux. Soon, I received a flood of emails from people with LPR asking me to publish more of my research and interviews. Refluxgate was born.
P.S.: One question readers ask me again and again is: “Do my symptoms sound like I have silent reflux?”. What they usually forget to tell me is how strong their symptoms are. That is a critical factor when it comes to getting a correct diagnosis.
One very helpful tool to get a quick first impression is the RSI test. This simple questionnaire will calculate a score based on your symptoms, and tell you how likely it is that you have silent reflux. I have created an online version of the test. If you’re unsure whether you have LPR, this is a good place to begin. Click here to complete the RSI test online!