Most diseases and disorders are diagnosed based on prevelant symptoms that can be tied to a particular problem within the human body. Diagnosis of diseases for which there are no symptoms, however, can be a major problem. If you experience no symptoms, such as with silent acid reflux disease, you might not ever know there is a problem, causing permanent damage to the digestive tract.
Although the same stomach acid that causes heartburn is also a player in silent acid reflux disease, the two are not synonomous. Heartburn is usually a symptom of acid reflux disease, but will not be in the case of silent acid reflux disease. In this case, the patient might not feel any pain at all, and may not even know that acid has become a problem.
Two separate sets of sphincter muscles prevent stomach acid from backing up into the esophagus when food or drink is swallowed. In regular acid reflux disease, both sets typically fail to work, and acid is allowed to travel up into the upper esophagus, causing heartburn. With silent acid reflux disease, the top sphincter muscle remains closed, but the second allows stomach acid into the lower esophagus, where the tissue is less sensetive.
Symptoms of silent acid reflux disease are less obvious than that of heartburn or of regular acid reflux disease, and may include hoarsness or trouble talking, especially upon waking in the morning. Usually, silent acid reflux disease permits the stomach acid to enter the voice box, which may lead to the need to clear the throat regularly. The goal in the treatment of silent acid reflux disease is to reduce the levels of stomach acid in the body.
It has also been theorized that silent acid reflux disease may cause sleep disturbances in patients, including apnea and excessive snoring. Patients who experience sleep problems as a symptom of silent acid reflux disease are encouraged to sleep on pillows that slightly elevate the head and to avoid eating for two-to-three hours before going to sleep. Alcohol and tobacco use can exacerbate the symptoms.
Even if you aren’t sure that your symptoms mean silent acid reflux, it is still important to consult your physician and have a full work-up performed to determine the cause. When silent acid reflux disease goes intreated, it can permanently damage the throat, voice box and esophagus. People who have lived years with this disease have been forced to undergo surgery in order to correct the damage.
Silent acid reflux disease has also been found in children. It is easier to treat and to correct poor dietary habits when children are young, so a physician’s assistance is necessary.