6 Hidden Acid Reflux Symptoms

What’s the most obvious sign of acid reflux?

If you said heartburn, you’re right. And chances are you know exactly how it feels. Many of us have experienced the uncomfortable sensations in the chest and throat caused by heartburn.

But can you explain how heartburn occurs?

Don’t worry if you can’t. Let me explain. At the end of your esophagus, there’s a bundle of muscles called lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES usually closes as soon as food passes through it. If it opens too often or if it doesn’t close properly, stomach acid can move up the esophagus, causing a burning sensation.

Surprisingly, you can suffer acid reflux without experiencing heartburn. In fact, some acid reflux symptoms are so subtle that you may ignore them for years or confuse them for other conditions.

woman with a sore throat sitting at a desk. Text reads: "6 Hidden Signs of Acid Reflux"

Subtle Signs of Acid Reflux

Failing to recognize these more subtle symptoms can be disastrous, since the frequent occurrence of acid reflux usually leads to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Start paying close attention, and see a doctor if you notice any of these silent signs of acid reflux.

1. Frequent Throat Clearing

For many of us, throat clearing is second nature, but this habit may be a sign of acid reflux and other conditions, like a chronic postnasal drip.

When you have acid reflux, stomach acid droplets may land on your throat, causing a tickling sensation, which makes you clear the throat. It’s called “silent reflux.”

You may not notice that you clear your throat frequently, especially if you’ve been doing it for a long time, so ask a friend, your spouse or a coworker to observe you.

2. You Cant Stop Coughing

Don’t ignore a cough that lasts for more than three weeks. It could be a sign of acid reflux or life-threatening conditions, such as pneumonia or lung cancer.

Reflux causes us to cough for the same reason it causes us to clear our throats—stomach acid irritates the windpipe and throat.

Here are other unique reasons you can’t stop coughing.

3. You Have Trouble Swallowing

Chronic acid reflux can have devastating effects on your esophagus. According to Healthline, it can damage the lining of the esophagus, which causes inflammation and scar tissue, narrowing the esophagus.

A narrower esophagus may make it harder for you to swallow food and drinks. Even worse, it can lead to food being stuck when you swallow.

4. Your Sore Throat Wont Go Away

Do you suffer a sore throat every other day? It could be a sign of acid reflux, especially if it’s not accompanied by cold symptoms such as a running nose.

Stomach acid can make your throat feel sore when it moves up the esophagus. You may also notice hoarseness, since stomach acid tends to affect the voice box as well.

5. Excess Saliva in Your Mouth  

You probably know how uncomfortable it feels to have excess saliva in your mouth. Most times, this occurs after eating foods that cause acid reflux.

The salivary glands tend to produce excess saliva when they notice irritation in the esophagus in order to wash away whatever is down there.

6. Sour or Bitter Taste in Your Mouth

According to research by the Mayo Clinic, heartburn and a sour taste in the mouth are the two telling signs of GERD. Sometimes stomach juices can rise all the way into the mouth, leaving a bitter or sour taste.

Common Acid Reflux Causes

I bet you’re happy to know the hidden signs of acid reflux. Now, you can spot it, even when you’re not experiencing heartburn.

But wouldn’t be better if I told you the common causes of acid reflux? That way, you can lower the risk of GERD and escape the discomfort that comes with this condition.

Here are the common causes of acid reflux:

  • Eating right before going to bed
  • Eating trigger foods such as dairy
  • Eating too much in one sitting
  • Smoking
  • Excessive drinking
  • Wearing tight clothes or belts
  • Being overweight

Have you experienced any of these less common acid reflux symptoms? What do you do to get relief?

Photos via Getty Images

50 comments

Nellie K Adaba

Yes, I have those symptoms.

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Berenice Guedes de Sá

Many thaks for sharing!

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Berenice Guedes de Sá

Thaks so much for sharing!!!

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danii p
danii p8 days ago

tyfs

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danii p
danii p8 days ago

tyfs

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danii p
danii p8 days ago

tyfs

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Paulo R
Paulo R9 days ago

ty

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Melanie S

Thank you for sharing

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Lindsay K
Lindsay K10 days ago

Very interesting and helpful. Many thanks for sharing.

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Lesa D
Lesa D11 days ago

thank you Brian...

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