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Can I have Acid Reflux Without Heartburn?

Yes, acid reflux can occur with “silent” symptoms. Each individual's body reacts differently to different situations, so not everyone will have heartburn and be diagnosed with acid reflux. “Silent acid reflux” is one of the most difficult conditions to diagnose.

Instead of complaining of heartburn, often some people report sleep disruption, which is caused by acid refluxed into the esophagus as they lie down to sleep. As the acid travels up into the esophagus, people occasionally become aroused from their sleep. These sleep disturbances can occur regularly and cause severe interruptions to their sleep. Therefore, physicians should consider a diagnosis of acid reflux when people present with complaints of difficulty sleeping.

People with silent acid reflux also present with a persistent cough. As mentioned earlier, stomach acid may reflux up from the stomach into the esophagus and enter the trachea. This can lead to irritation of the airways and cause a cough and, in more severe instances, asthma attacks. Silent acid reflux can damage the voice box and cause voice changes such as hoarseness. An ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor can make this diagnosis by passing a tiny scope up the nose and down into the airway to examine the area. The ENT doctor can see changes caused by chronic acid damage, even in the absence of typical acid reflux symptoms. In fact, ENT doctors send many patients for further evaluation for acid reflux.

Finally, people may have ongoing reflux and not notice it if it remains silent. Over time, the acid refluxing up from the stomach can cause damage to the throat and eventually to the mouth. Throat damage may not present as heartburn, but when damage occurs in the mouth, people tend to notice. People or their dentists may notice the dental erosions, which may be the first indication of silent acid reflux in some people.

Can I have Acid Reflux Without Heartburn? References

By Mortin - Copyright 2009
Last modification 31/12/2009