In our most recent blog, the Center for Natural and Integrative Medicine brought you information about gastroesophageal reflux disease, known as GERD. We explained the major ways people suffer with this condition. “The unpleasant sensation of heartburn in the chest and stomach, along with the sour taste of acid in the mouth, is an all-too-familiar feeling for many people with the condition.”
Did you know that there is another kind of GERD, an insidious GERD, known as “Silent GERD?” With silent GERD, the patient does not have heartburn as a key symptom.
“In the absence of heartburn, some people with GERD report a wide variety of symptoms due to the damage the acid causes to their voice box, respiratory system, teeth, and throat.”
The “silent” in the name refers to the fact that this condition presents itself in some patients without the classic symptoms. It is the type of reflux that Michael Vaezi, MD,PhD, clinical director of the division of gastroenterology and hepatology recently explained.He stated,”Reflux can be what we call extra-esophageal.”
Dr. Vaezi, who is also the director of the Center for Esophageal Motility Disorders at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, added, “These patients may not have heartburn sensation in the chest. It’s not really silent, [but it is] presenting atypically.”
Some Special Symptoms of Silent GERD include:
1. Hoarseness: You might wonder what happened to your voice. In silent GERD, stomach acid comes up onto their voice box, or larynx. The voice can become harsh, hoarse or grating.
2. Throat Trouble: As acid reflux travels into the pharynx, it can cause many symptoms. You might find you have a persistent sore throat, a lump in your throat or a harassing cough.
You might even have frequent hiccups or trouble swallowing.
3. Respiratory Difficulties: The reflux can even cause you to wheeze or feel breathless. This is because of irritation in the airway, caused by the acid.
4. Dental Decay: The run-away stomach acid can actually destroy the protective enamel of the teeth. Your teeth might become discolored as well as fragile.
Living With Your Silent GERD:
You might have to take medication to control your Silent GERD, but chances are, you will also have to change some of your habits in order to feel better. Just like patients with regular GERD, Silent GERD sufferers are discouraged “from eating chocolate, peppermint, caffeine, and alcohol.” Here are some rules to live by, if you wish to control your Silent GERD:
1. If you are overweight, try losing those extra pounds.
2. Eat small meals, several times a day.
3. Do not lay down for three or four hours after eating a meal.
4. Avoid or cut back alcohol.
5. Do not smoke.
6. Avoid fatty and spicy foods, and caffeine, mint or chocolate.
7. Relax that waist area by wearing loose-fitting clothes.
8. Sometimes chewing gum can help neutralize acid.
9. Citrus fruit, tomato-based foods, and carbonated beverages should be avoided.
In some cases, experts remind us that “surgery may be recommended to correct underlying structural abnormalities in the esophagus or stomach that are contributing to GERD,” whether it is the regular or Silent type! With careful behavior modification, we hope you can make your Silent GERD truly silent! The Center For Natural and Integrative Medicine can help you with Silent Gerd, with proper diet and lifestyle advice, as well as medication or surgical advice, if necessary.