There is a whole range of silent reflux symptoms.
They are directly or indirectly caused by inflammation, which are the result of damages from pepsin.
Here are the most common symptoms of silent reflux:
1) Hoarseness and Pain While Speaking (often caused by reflux laryngitis)
Laryngitis is a very common silent reflux symptom. It is no wonder that another name for silent reflux is laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR).
The larynx is very close to the esophagus and any potential reflux. At the same time, our voice reacts strongly to any disturbance. So even minor inflammation can cause serious voice issues.
We get the most problems when the vocal cords are inflamed, as those are the basis of our voice.
But often, only the entry area of the larynx is inflamed. As long as the vocal cords are fine, this instead causes pain and trouble while speaking. The voice itself can sound mostly normal. The inflamed larynx “just” hinders the speaking muscles from working correctly.
Also, other parts of our throat and airways are part of our voice. So even if our larynx is fine, other areas can cause trouble with speaking.
Our palate, for example, is needed to create most hard consonants like “c” and “p”. If this area between the mouth and nose is inflamed, we will have trouble speaking. It might be harder to understand us, or we will be in pain while talking. The muscles can cause problems and can get tense from speaking. That is pretty much the same as back pain from sitting in a bad position for too long – just that we have pain around the larynx and throat.
Also, we need our lungs to speak. They have to deliver a sufficient and stable airflow to speak correctly. So, if reflux hits the lungs, we can have trouble with our voice as well.
2) Sore Throat
An inflamed and painful throat is as common as laryngitis for LPR.
Every reflux shoots up your esophagus and then into your throat. So it is no wonder that a lot of patients have issues there.
3) Asthma-Like Symptoms
Experts have started to proclaim that many patients who are treated for asthma actually have reflux.
The symptoms are very similar.
It is important to look at whether people have trouble breathing out or in. If breathing out is the hard part, then this speaks for asthma. Problems while breathing in sounds more like a silent reflux symptom.
4) Chronic Cough and Throat Clearing
In the same way that silent reflux can cause asthma, it can also make you cough. This stems from damages in your lungs.
Also, LPR hits the mucous membrane in your airways. This irritation can cause a cough and throat clearing as well.
It is very hard for a doctor to tell if a chronic cough is caused by reflux. There are simply so many diseases that can cause a cough. This is why silent refluxers with a chronic cough are usually not getting the correct diagnosis easily.
5) Globus Syndrome (lump in the throat sensation)
Some people feel like they have a lump in their throat, or like something is stuck there.
Inflammation causes swelling of your mucus membranes. So when you have silent reflux, you can indeed have something like a lump in your throat – a lump of swollen tissue. The swelling won’t be big and round, but enough to give you that feeling.
For a long time (and even today) people with Globus Syndrome got put into the psychosomatic corner. Those problems can indeed be caused psychologically – but they are also a common symptom of silent reflux.
The inflamed throat can cause swallowing problems.
The explanation is similar to that of the Globus Syndrome. When you have swelling, this causes your throat to be tighter than it should be. So it is harder for food to get through.
Also, when the swelling happens in an unfortunate spot, muscles can get hindered from working correctly during the swallowing process. Like if you tried to move your arm while your joint is swollen – there is simply something in the way.
7) Excessive Belching
Many silent refluxers report that they belch a lot.
However, it is hard to define whether that is a symptom or the cause of LPR.
Every time we belch, air comes up and possibly transports pepsins and acids with it. Some belching is normal. Just when it gets too much, it can cause the symptoms of silent reflux.
8) Post-Nasal Drip
This is the same as a runny nose – just that the mucus runs down your throat.
It happens more frequently than a “normal” runny nose when you have reflux. The backside of your nose is simply closer to the reflux.
9) Oversensitive and Irritated Mucous Membrane in General
Silent Reflux can irritate your body wherever it goes.
So all parts of your throat, airways and nose can be irritated.
Some people have issues in their mouth, like a burning tongue. Others have issues with their nose. You can even get ear inflammation from reflux. The ears are connected through the eustachian tube with your nose.
10) Excessive Mucus in Your Throat and Airways
When our mucous membranes are irritated, they tend to produce more mucus as a defense mechanism.
That is why silent reflux can cause excessive mucus anywhere in your airways.
Some people get the feeling of needing to vomit from silent reflux.
That is simply because your throat gets stimulated and can cause a vomit reflex. But it can also come from stomach problems which might be the root cause of your reflux.
12) Frequent Infections
When your mucous membranes are inflamed all the time, it hinders your defenses from beating infections.
That is why silent refluxers are easier hit by viruses, bacteria, and fungal infections.
So you might end up getting sick more often; be it common colds, fungal infestations or other infections. Also, recurring infections of your ears can be an LPR symptom.
Further Silent Reflux Symptoms
You see, LPR can cause a lot of different problems.
The more of the symptoms listed above that you have over a long time, the higher the chances are that silent reflux is the reason.
The symptoms that I showed you are only the ones most commonly associated with reflux.
Whatever other symptoms you have, if it can be caused by inflammation in the airways, then it can be a silent reflux symptom.
It is important to understand that Silent Reflux is caused by a combination of acid and the stomach enzyme pepsin. This is why it is unlikely that blocking the acid alone is going to help you.
P.S.: The symptoms are the most important factor for diagnosing silent reflux.
Researchers have developed a questionnaire as a test for the disease. Click on the image below and do the test online now. It will tell you how likely it is that you have LPR.