Regular Heartburn Isn’t So Typical: What’s The Cure?

by | Apr 23, 2024

Laryngopharyngeal Reflux, or LPR, is better known as silent reflux. Most of us know heartburn as throat burning, chest pain, regurgitation, or an acidic taste in the mouth. What’s more common is an annoying cough, throat clearing, and postnasal drip. Silent reflux is gaseous reflux instead of liquid reflux. Some researchers suspect that silent reflux impacts over 50 percent of Americans.


How do you get diagnosed?

There are two ways to get a proper diagnosis. One is a clinical diagnosis with the Reflux Symptom Index (RSI) questionnaire. The other way is via a camera down your throat called an esophageal gastroduodenal (EGD) scope. There is also a nasopharyngeal scope that is less commonly used as does not require anesthesia. The downside to this procedure is it doesnt look at the stomach or first part of the small intestines, just the upper part of the respiratory & digestive tract.


Allopathic Treatment

If accurately diagnosed as silent reflux and not asthma, allergies, or sleep apnea, the most common medications used are proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs. These medications directly inhibit the stomach’s ability to produce stomach acid.


Root Causes

Unfortunately, not enough stomach acid is often the pathway in which people dealing with silent reflux end up with the condition. The medication may help for a short time, but many people experience a return of symptoms. This return of symptoms reveals that the body isn’t deficient in the PPI, but rather something else is going on that needs to be addressed.


Another common contributing factor is having hiatal hernia. A hiatal hernia is when the stomach slides up in the thorax preventing the valve just above the stomach called the lower esophageal sphincter, the LES for short, from closing. This can feel like pressure in the throat, pain in the upper abdomen or feeling full with very little food. Hiatal hernias are not always seen on EGDs because of the anesthetic medication.


The most overlooked factor that is contributing to silent reflux is blood sugar instability. This can be tested on blood work with fasting insulin, hemoglobin a1c and a glucose (or blood sugar) test typically found on the complete metabolic panel. Correcting blood sugar issues can improve symptoms and start the dis-ease reversal process.


Naturopathic Treatments

In naturopathic medicine, we treat the whole person; treatment plans may vary depending on the patient’s presentation. Dr. Shayna approaches silent reflux using a four-step process that includes nutritional guidance through the Carroll Food Intolerance Method, demulcent herbs, digestive and nervous system support to begin to correct the digestive imbalances that have led to silent reflux.


Our digestive process is a series of elegant steps that rely on the process before to ensure the appropriate secretion of digestive juices. If you want to learn more about this process, consider my YouTube channel @ShaynaLKellerND, the episode is called What Makes a Gut Healthy?

If you have been dealing with reflux-related health issues and are tired of the pill for every ill model, consider reaching out to Dr. Powell (formerly Keller) for a free 15-minute consultation to determine if we are a good fit.


Dr. Shayna Powell

By: Dr. Shayna Powell|  West Elks Wellness

Shayna L. Powell (formerly Keller), ND is the owner of West Elks Wellness. She is a registered Naturopathic Doctor (ND) practicing in Montrose, Colorado. Dr. Keller runs a family practice, and loves working with children. She has a special interest in gastrointestinal complaints and dermatological issues. Dr. Shayna received her bachelor’s degree from Western Colorado University in Gunnison, Colorado in 2014 majoring in pre-medicine. She graduated from Bastyr University in Kenmore, Washington in 2020 as a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine. During her final year of naturopathic medical school, she completed a year-long internship at Emerald City Naturopathic Clinic in Seattle, Washington with Molly Niedermeyer, ND. Dr. Shayna has studied with several elder naturopathic doctors through the Naturopathic Medicine Institute since 2016.

Dr. Shayna lives in Montrose with her husband Jacob Powell and their two cats and two dogs. She loves to garden, snowboard, read and cook for fun!

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