Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR) - also known as silent reflux - is difficult to diagnose for a variety of reasons. One of the things that makes identifying silent reflux so tricky is that it doesn’t present with the symptoms that are usually associated with reflux. When most people talk about reflux they’re referring to acid reflux, which presents with classic symptoms like heartburn, regurgitation, etc.  Symptoms of silent reflux are totally different than the ones presented by its counterpart, and much sneakier.

Confused? It’s okay if you are. Silent reflux is one of two types of reflux (acid reflux and laryngopharyngeal reflux) that are often associated with GERD, an esophageal disorder caused by a weak lower esophageal sphincter. Silent reflux may occur on its own or in combination with GERD (or as a result of it); only it’s distinctly uncharacteristic symptoms stick out enough to signal LPR.

How Does Silent Reflux Work?

If you’ve ever know someone who was diagnosed with silent reflux, you’ll know that one of the reasons why it’s so tricky to diagnose is because the silent reflux symptoms are often confused with those of a common cold, pointing to a pulmonary condition rather than a reflux disease. That is because silent reflux occurs when the stomach acids target the patient’s throat and voice box, and sometimes even their nasal airways. This can cause inflammation in these areas that aren’t normally protected against gastric acid. A patient with silent reflux may never even suffer from heartburn. Knowing this, it’s a lot easier to understand how the symptoms make sense for this type of reflux.

Silent Reflux Symptoms

While the symptoms of silent reflux don’t seem to point toward a reflux disease, an experienced physician should be able to see the symptoms as red flags for silent reflux.

Here are 10 symptoms of silent reflux that can help your doctor diagnose silent reflux.

  • Hoarseness

  • Constant need to clear throat

  • Constant irritated throat

  • A chronic cough

  • Shortness of breath

  • Post-nasal drip

  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)

  • A lump in the throat feeling

  • Excess throat mucus

  • Frequent ear infections

How To Diagnose Silent Reflux

Silent reflux is typically suspected when a patient complains of irritated vocal chords or irritation in their nasal airways, or when a doctor finds irritation and inflammation in these areas during a throat and lung evaluation. In order to diagnose silent reflux, you may be administered any one of 4 tests which are typically used to diagnose silent reflux as well as GERD. These include a 24-hour Impedance/pH Test, a 48-hour capsule pH test, an esophageal manometry, or a barium esophagram.

More Information

If these symptoms sound familiar to you, then it is possible that you may be suffering from silent reflux. If you are, it’s important that you be diagnosed and treated for the condition. Silent reflux can cause a lot of damage to your throat, nasal airways, and voice box. To see if you are suffering from silent reflux, schedule an appointment at Tampa Bay Reflux center today to speak with one of our reflux specialists.