Many people associate acid reflux with heartburn. "Silent" reflux, however, also affects the throat and voice box. Although individuals with silent reflux often have different symptoms than those with acid reflux, the dietary treatment for both is the same. Certain foods and dietary habits can exacerbate silent reflux, and eliminating these foods from your diet can help manage symptoms.
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Cause of Reflux
The acidic contents of the stomach moving back into throat and esophagus causes silent reflux, also known as laryngopharyngeal reflux. According to health care experts at the University of Michigan, it is silent because many are unaware that they have silent reflux and may not realize what is causing discomfort in their throat. There are a variety of factors associated with reflux, including obesity, pregnancy, smoking, certain medications and having a hiatal hernia.
Some individuals with the disease have a variety of symptoms, while some may have few complications. Symptoms could include heartburn, feeling of a lump in the throat or needing to clear the throat. Additionally, hoarseness, voice loss, sore throat, difficulty swallowing, pain in the upper abdomen or dry cough may occur.
Nutrition and Reflux
As stated by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, acid reflux can decrease your body's ability to digest foods properly and absorb nutrients while causing discomfort that decreases appetite. To maintain your nutritional health, avoiding certain foods may help decrease symptoms. These problematic foods include alcohol, high-fat or greasy foods, coffee or tea, chocolate, spicy food, caffeine, orange juice or acidic drinks. Some people may not have symptoms from eating these foods, so it is important to pay attention to your body's reaction.
In addition to avoiding certain foods, there are dietary habits that can help manage symptoms. For example, instead of eating three large meals a day, eat small, frequent meals and avoid meals that are high in fat. Furthermore, sit upright while you eat, remain upright two to three hours afterward and do not eat three hours before bed.
If you suffer from acid reflux and smoke, quitting smoking may decrease symptoms. If your reflux is related to obesity, talk to your health care provider about a diet and exercise plan that can help you lose weight. Lastly, certain medications can be prescribed, but these should first be discussed with your physician.
- Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility: Silent Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
- The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease Awareness Week
- University of Michigan Health System: Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (Silent Reflux)
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER) and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) in Adults