May 13, 2024

Should I Do A Reflux Detox? 10 Symptoms That Demand Attention



  • Many common mis-diagnoses result from Silent Respiratory Reflux, including shortness of breath, nighttime coughing, laryngitis, snoring, sleep apnea, etc. 
  • Usually, neither the patient nor their doctors know that acid reflux is the underlying problem. Furthermore, respiratory reflux can worsen or accelerate any preexisting respiratory or lung condition.
  • Presented are 10 common and distressing symptoms, mostly reflux-caused, that demand a vigorous antireflux (“Detox”) program.

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I know that each of the 10 symptoms discussed in this post has several different causes. For example, Shortness of Breath (SOB) can be caused by primary lung diseases such as tuberculosis and cystic fibrosis, as well as by acid reflux. The same is the case for laryngitis and most of the other symptoms. But that said, Silent Nocturnal Respiratory Reflux (SNoRR) is the most common cause of unexplained cough, waking from sleep coughing, laryngitis, sinusitis … all ten. Here are some of the reflux specifics. 

Shortness of Breath

Generally, SOB is divided into three categories: (1) shortness of breath with physical effort, with exertion, (2) difficulty getting air in and/or out of the lungs, and (3) difficulty or discomfort taking a full breath in.

Let’s deal with #3 first. This very specific symptom is virtually always associated with respiratory reflux; and it is vagally-mediated. With #2, there are several different causes of airway obstruction, from asthma to laryngospasm, and from a variety of benign and malignant lesions. 

So, there’s a kicker: intermittent (“attacks,” not constant) difficulty breathing IN is usually reflux-related; see the posts on Pseudo-Asthma and Choking.   

Finally, #1, SOB on exertion, huffing, and puffing after walking up 2-3 flights of stairs or other exercises is most often reflux-related… assuming a normal chest X-ray. Note: If you have SOB, you should tell your doctor and be evaluated; at the very least, you should have a chest x-ray.

Waking From Sleep Coughing Violently 

There’s a television ad that shows a young woman getting out of bed with a voice-over that says, “If you wake up in the middle of the night coughing, you have asthma” … and you should be treated with whatever medicine they are advertising … this is nonsense … not asthma… never asthma. This is a symptom of severe respiratory reflux and a not-so-silent symptom at that. Also, the coughing may be associated with “breathing like a fish out of water,” Laryngospasm, and puts you in the “Champion Refluxer Division.” Yes, you need a Reflux Detox as well as long-term reflux control. 

Chronic Laryngitis

Chronic Laryngitis that limits your social and/or professional life is usually due to Silent Nocturnal Respiratory Reflux (SNoRR), especially if the voice is bad on awakening. SNoRR affects the vocal cords making them inflamed and swollen. This is a big deal if you are a professional voice user, e.g., singer, actor, TV personality, preacher, teacher, or other voice professional. For this problem, you need an examination by an ENT doctor, preferably by a laryngologist, who will likely find swollen vocal cords and treat you fer reflux. 

Difficulty Swallowing

If you have difficulty swallowing (dysphagia), ask your primary care physician to order a Barium Swallow, Esophagram, Upright (standing), and supine (lying down). The most common cause of difficulty swallowing is that the upper esophageal sphincter, located just below your voice box, is misbehaving due to reflux. If it is really reflux-related, it will often be accompanied by Globus, a sensation of a lump in the throat. The barium study will likely show reflux and a cricopharyngeal bar. But do take note, a difficulty-swallowing symptom needs a medical work-up by a physician, usually in conjunction with a Speech-Language Pathologist’s examination.

 Snoring and Sleep Apnea

It’s interesting that snoring and sleep apnea diagnoses have escalated, skyrocketed over the last twenty years. In my opinion, that’s because second-generation fast food eaters have lived a “reflux life,” usually 20-30 years, long enough, to develop snoring and sleep apnea due to throat swelling; it is long-standing SNoRR. Many cases of sleep apnea can be diagnosed by throat examination alone. And, long-term anti-reflux treatment can reverse both snoring and sleep apnea.

Recurrent Pneumonia

Recurrent pneumonia in an otherwise healthy person is caused by reflux aspiration events, usually following overeating in the evening with or without alcohol. Yes, you have this? You too are a championship refluxer; see My Previous Post

Recurrent Sinus Infections

Assuming that you are not immunocompromised or on chemotherapy, Recurrent Sinusitis is usually caused by respiratory reflux (SNoRR), especially if you have no fever and sinuses on both sides are affected. A “real” sinus infection usually involves one sinus or at least one side. Furthermore, the findings on CT scan of “mucoperiosteal thickening” (the lining membranes in the sinuses are thick) do not meet the criteria for sinusitis or any type of surgical intervention.

Chronic Throat Clearing

Mucus membranes line the respiratory system and make mucus. When irritated by reflux, they produce more mucus, which is thick and hard to move. It often lands on the vocal cords, requiring coughing it off. Post-nasal drip with chronic throat clearing are the most common symptoms of reflux. Thick, sticky mucus is not allergy. 

Bitter Taste in the Morning

If you have a bitter taste in your mouth in the morning and think it is from reflux, it is. If so, you should have many other respiratory reflux symptoms. Reflux-taste in the mouth is a bad symptom.

Progressive Gum and Dental Disease

Rapidly progressive gum and dental disease are very serious respiratory reflux symptoms. This also means the esophagus and other parts of the respiratory system are involved. This symptom is a horrifying one, and this type of severe respiratory reflux must be diagnosed and treated with vigor. 

Who Needs A Reflux Detox Program?

If you have any of the above 10 symptoms, your reflux symptoms are serious enough that they should be considered high-priority for medical intervention. That said, do not go to a gastroenterologist for any of those symptoms; GIs have no tests or treatments for you, for respiratory reflux. See an ENT doctor. Of course, in the long run, the only real cure for reflux is a healthy diet and lifestyle. That’s right: fast food, alcohol, and eating too close to bedtime are out … always going forward … life-changer.

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