Believe it or not, you may be suffering from acid reflux and not even know it. More than 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month, and 15 million suffer from it daily, according to the American Gastroenterological Association.
Clinically referred to as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), the digestive disorder occurs when stomach acid or bile travels up into the esophagus, irritating the lining. This chronic condition is worse than just indigestion, as GERD can damage the throat, lungs and larynx.
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“We believe that lung cancer, throat cancer and esophageal cancer are all caused by reflux,” says Dr. Jamie Koufman, founder of The Voice Institute of New York and author of Dr. Koufman’s Acid Reflux Diet.
While daytime reflux often manifests as heartburn or indigestion, nighttime symptoms vary a lot more.”When people have reflux, particularly at night, it sits in a polyp and leaks into the nose, throat and sinuses,” Dr. Koufman says. “The mucus membranes not only get swollen and irritated, but they put out more mucus. We’re talking bad lungs, bad sinuses, bad throats and bad voices — that’s a lot of stuff.”
If the issue becomes chronic, it can lead to complications like pneumonia while often going unidentified. “The three most common misdiagnosis in America, based on my experience with thousands of patients, are allergies, sinus disease and asthma,” Dr. Koufman says. “The truth is many of these people are suffering from reflux.”
The “Unusual” Symptoms
While the most common signs include chest pain, nausea and regurgitation, acid reflux often disguises itself in not-so-obvious ways. “Acid reflux affects the respiratory tract, so we’re looking at allergy-type symptoms,” Dr. Koufman states. These include:
- Shortness of breath
- Vocal fatigue
- Chronic throat clearing
- Excessive throat mucus
- Postnasal drip
- Difficulty swallowing
- Nasal congestion
- Noisy breathing
- Choking episodes
The major underlying cause: diet….