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Silent Signs of Acid Reflux You Might Be Ignoring

Acid reflux can masquerade as everything from a cold to poor dental hygiene. If you notice any of the following GERD signs, especially if you get typical heartburn symptoms, talk to your doctor.

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Signs of acid reflux - man with tinnitusPhoto: Shutterstock

Ringing in your ears

If your ears always ring (a condition known as tinnitus)—especially after a meal—it may be caused by reflux getting into the sinuses and even the interior of the ear, says Gina Sam, MD, MPH, director of the Mount Sinai Gastrointestinal Motility Center in New York City. “A lot of patients see their ENT to get consults about sinus pain and ear ringing, but it’s often acid reflux,” she says.

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Signs of acid reflux - woman with sore throatPhoto: Shutterstock

Sore throat or hoarseness

A sore throat that doesn’t go away and isn’t accompanied by typical cold symptoms (like a runny nose) may be caused by acid reflux. “Your throat feels sore because a little bit of acid is coming up from the esophagus and irritating the throat,” says Dr. Sam. Unexplained hoarseness may be caused by stomach acid moving up to your larynx, or voice box, and, according to, tends to be more noticeable in the mornings when it had all night to travel while you were lying down.

Learn how to spot the telltale signs of strep throat.

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Signs of acid reflux - woman coughingPhoto: Shutterstock

Persistent cough or wheezing

“Wheezing or a cough that mimics asthma or bronchitis can be caused by acid reflux moving from the stomach to the lungs,” says Evan Dellon, MD, MPH, from the Center for Esophageal Diseases and Swallowing at the UNC School of Medicine in North Carolina. On the other hand, wheezers and coughers can sometimes make themselves more prone to reflux, says Dr. Dellon, because the actions put pressure on the belly and push stomach acid upward.

Find out the most effective home remedies for indigestion.

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Signs of acid reflux - dentist checkupPhoto: Shutterstock

You’re having dental problems

If you’re a dedicated brusher and flosser but your dentist is still filling cavities, tells you your tooth enamel is eroding, or notices discolouration, acid reflux may be to blame. “Even a small amount of acid reflux making its way up from the esophagus to your throat or mouth while lying down can impact tooth enamel,” says Dr. Dellon.

Discover more signs of disease your teeth can reveal.

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Signs of acid reflux - man having trouble swallowingPhoto: Shutterstock

You have trouble swallowing

Food getting stuck when you swallow, liquid that just won’t go down, or the sensation that something is stuck in your throat could all be signs of acid reflux, says Dr. Sam. According to, chronic reflux can irritate the throat, and scar tissue can develop in the esophagus and narrow it.

Find out what your burps can reveal about your health.

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Woman blowing her nose into tissuePhoto: Shutterstock

Nasal congestion

Nasal congestion that comes and goes may be caused by acid reflux. “If you’ve tried cutting down on reflux-producing foods or eating late at night and the symptom doesn’t go away, it’s probably just congestion,” says Dr. Sam. “But if it goes away and comes back, and then goes away again, it’s probably acid reflux.”

Next, check out 20 symptoms you should never ignore.

The Healthy
Originally Published on The Healthy