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Silent Reflux, Loud Complaints

They say every pregnancy is different, and boy, are “they” right. I’d be terrified to be Michelle Duggar, because I’d be afraid that by my 10th pregnancy or so, my babies would learn how to reach out of my belly button to wave hi or some such ridiculousness. When I got pregnant, I was so excited. But since my second pregnancy was noticeably more difficult than my first — like way more acid reflux during pregnancy and random pains — I wondered what I’d be in for. But I was determined to enjoy it to the fullest because unless there is a big “oops” in my future, this is my third and final kiddo.

Of course, the pelvic pain started again, which I was expecting. It has since “subsided” to a stabbing knife-like pain in my left upper thigh whenever I stand up from bending over, but hey — it doesn’t hurt all the time and I’m dealing. Then I got hit with two colds — two colds that gave my family a day of sniffles but wiped me out for days. And then I had a really bad sore throat set in once my cold was going away, which is kind of the reverse of how you want it to go. So I gave it a couple of weeks, and when the throat didn’t even show a hint of improvement, I headed to the doctor because my mom wouldn’t stop hassling me about going. Seriously, she kept calling me until I made an appointment. (Thanks, Mom!) I got an antibiotic, which did wonders for my sinuses but nada for my throat.


And more days passed. And when my ob/gyn basically shrugged her shoulders because she doesn’t really care about my throat, I made an appointment with an ear, nose and throat doctor. I figured I’d go straight to the experts — even though I had already diagnosed myself via my friend in health, Dr. Google. The ENT was super thorough and reassured me that I didn’t have cancer — yay! — and that it was either residual from my sinus infection or most likely, acid reflux.

And here’s where it gets interesting. Because while I’ve had some mild heartburn a few times, I’m nowhere near the middle-of-the-night, acid-in-the-throat stage that I’ve dealt with later in pregnancy. Fun fact: There is a fun condition called “silent reflux” wherein you have bodily awfulness — sore throat, coughing, throat clearing, that “lump” feeling in your throat — but few of the typical heartburn symptoms. So while I’m glad I’m not dealing with the actual feel of acid in my throat nightly, I have the terrible sore throat that assures me it’s there. It explains why I can’t stop coughing at night, why I’m always clearing my throat, why a good cry makes it feel like I got punched in the throat, and why I feel like I’m being choked at random times.

If you’ve got reflux or think you might have the silent variety, don’t suffer in silence! Head to your doctor — multiple ones if you need to — to get to the bottom of it. I’m no expert, but later today I’ll share a few of the ways I’m coping with it to try to get rid of the sore throat for good. And if it doesn’t get better, well, I just hope it’s one of those pregnancy symptoms that disappears like magic as soon as the baby arrives!

Have you dealt with silent reflux before? —Erin

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  1. Julie says:

    I was diagnosed with silent reflux back in 2006 – had sore throat, constant throat clearing and stuffiness in my ears – was on Aciphex for a few years and then decided to wean myself off, as I was iron and B12 deficient due to malabsortion (we need stomach acid to break down nutrients and the change in the ph of my gastric acid wasn’t helping) – was fine until this past March when the symptoms came back, but 10 times worse than 2006. In addition to the original symptoms, I had asthma symptoms (not uncommon with silent reflux) and my ears were actually full of fluid this time. Started on the Aciphex again and it’s better, but I have had a problem trying to reintroduce some of the foods (and wine) – tomatoes, onions and peppers have been a mainstay in my diet for years and they are an issue. I’m frustrated at the lack of understanding about this type of reflux – my gastroenterologist (I started seeing him because my father had classic GERD and developed esophageal cancer and he was my dad’s doc) says they still didn’t have any idea why LPRD develops – GERD is a clear malfunction of the lower esophageal sphincter and I thought LPRD was a malfunction of the upper esophageal sphincter, but he says it is not really a physiological problem. So, I’m confused and getting ready to find an ENT who specializes in this type of reflux.

  2. Tiffany says:

    Thank you for your post about silent reflux! I was diagnosed by an ENT about a month prior to pregnancy and even with Nexium it has gotten worse. I know pregnancy hormones are what is making it worse but the choking feeling is just so hard to deal with every day. It’s nice to know I am not alone! I would love to hear your advice on how to better deal with it.

  3. Erin says:

    Tiffany — Ugh, I’m sorry you’re dealing with it too! The choking is the worst part. Check out this post for what I’m trying to do to help prevent it: https://fitbottomedgirls.com/2014/06/9-tips-for-coping-with-heartburn-during-pregnancy/

    I’m mostly focusing on trigger foods and eating less and not eating within a couple of hours of bedtime. I’m not totally better, but my throat is much less sore and the choking has improved dramatically. Good luck!


  4. Megan says:

    Hey Erin,
    This is a long shot, given this post was 6 years ago!! I came across it because of my symptoms and being 28 weeks pregnant. The sore throat component being the real issue. Your symptoms on this post are mine to a T. Like you I went my GP who was not concerned and finally the ENT who scoped me in his office and said I have a a lot of acid, no cancer. (Thank god, I was so scared). The persistent sore throat is annoying to say the least. It is literally a constant reminder of this all. I just wanted to see if you had any feed back and remember what you did that was pregnancy safe to relieve this and how long it took for yours to go away. Best, Megan

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