The Risks of Silent Reflux and How to Avoid It During the Holidays

Key Points:

  • Although acid reflux and silent reflux are similar ailments, they aren’t the same thing. Silent reflux typically occurs without noticeable, painful symptoms (hence silent) — and affects the larynx rather than the esophagus.

  • There are a variety of natural remedies you can use for silent reflux. Some include digestive bitters, bile support, and chiropractic care.

  • During the holidays, it’s important to keep healthy digestion in mind. Protect your stomach, larynx, and esophagus from inflammation and damage with careful eating habits to keep silent reflux at bay.

Acid reflux is a common digestive disorder that affects around twenty percent (read: one-fifth) of the population. 

You may know acid reflux by its most common symptom: heartburn. But did you know there’s a type of reflux that doesn’t cause heartburn (or almost any other symptoms) at all?

Silent reflux occurs when stomach acid reaches the larynx without causing any uncomfortable symptoms. Without the “canary” signal of heartburn, indigestion, and nausea, silent reflux puts you at risk of long-term damage to the esophagus, larynx, and throat. 

These tips will help you recognize your risk for silent heartburn and how you can take charge of your digestive health.

Table of Contents:

What is Silent Reflux?

Silent reflux (aka laryngopharyngeal reflux), occurs when acid reflux is present without any significant digestive symptoms. 

How is this possible? Essentially, the esophagus muscle (or sphincter) doesn’t close properly — so stomach acid leaks back into the larynx. Stomach acid is extremely powerful (it’s used to break down food after all), so this disorder can cause all sorts of long-term problems if silent reflux is chronic and goes untreated. 

Silent Reflux vs. Acid Reflux: What’s the Difference?

A lot of people are familiar with acid reflux — which is extremely similar to silent reflux. But they aren’t the same thing. For one, silent reflux doesn’t cause any clear symptoms. You won’t experience the typical heartburn, nausea, and backflow of stomach acid that would be typical for a case of acid reflux. 

The other difference is physiological. With silent reflux, stomach acid typically is pushed into the larynx instead of the esophagus. Reflux in the larynx may be less painful or even hardly noticeable, which is why this disorder is considered “silent.” 

How Do You Know If You Have Silent Reflux?

Silent reflux is often difficult to diagnose due to its minimal symptoms. However, if you’ve ever experienced digestive problems, then it’s worth it to look into silent reflux as a potential factor or sign of other more severe conditions. 

Some other things you can look for when diagnosing silent reflux:

  • A bitter taste in the back of your mouth or throat
  • Asthma or other breathing difficulties
  • Postnasal drip
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • A hoarse voice
  • Cough
  • Chronic sore throat
  • Frequent burping

How to Diagnose Silent Reflux

Depending on the patient’s medical history and symptoms, silent reflux can sometimes be diagnosed without a test. If your symptoms aren’t enough to draw a conclusion, your medical provider may suggest something like an acid reflux test (to determine the amount of acid in the esophagus and larynx), a swallowing study, or a pH test.

Natural Treatments for Silent Reflux

Treatment for silent reflux is crucial since chronic reflux can cause damage to your larynx or esophagus. These are some silent reflux treatment options to look into:

Lifestyle Changes

Your everyday habits like food choices, stress levels, and exercise routines can have a major impact on silent reflux. You may want to look into diets that could help you eliminate reflux as well as other habits you can implement to improve your digestion.

Chiropractic Care

Did you know? Silent reflux may be caused or worsened by poor posture and other internal structural issues. Chiropractic care can help strengthen your muscles and take pressure off your nerves — which may help your body manage silent reflux. 

Betaine HCl

Low stomach acid is almost always a factor when it comes to acid reflux or silent reflux. Betaine HCI is the technical name for your stomach acid. It is naturally derived from grains and already found in the body — so it’s a very safe supplement for someone who wants to build up stomach acid with a holistic approach to medicine.

Digestive Enzymes

Digestive enzymes can help you digest and move food faster through your GI  tract (reducing the risk of acid reflux from food sitting in your stomach.) There are a variety of different digestive enzymes — some help process fats, while others help you process carbohydrates and proteins, breaking them down into useable amino acids and simple sugars. 

When searching for a digestive enzyme, we recommend taking into account all sources of your digestive distress. For example, if you have bloating, gas, or diarrhea, your reflux may be part of a bigger problem. Some combinations of digestive enzymes may also be able to help with more complex gut issues like IBS, intestinal permeability, and more. 

Bile Support

Bile is created in the liver, then stored in the gallbladder for digestion. In some cases,  bile can also reflux into your stomach and esophagus. This may be a root cause of silent reflux and can be remedied through bile supports like TUDCA and other bile supportive herbs. Other symptoms of bile issues include chronic inflammation, gallbladder and liver disease, and difficulty digesting fats. 

Digestive Bitters

Digestive bitters are an ancient holistic remedy, usually derived from extracts of therapeutic roots, herbs, and even certain kinds of tree bark. They include elements gathered from nature that typically have a bitter taste (hence the name), which is known to stimulate digestive juices. If you regularly enjoy a cocktail, then you’re already familiar with bitters. 

Digestive bitters are also known for their immune system benefits and are commonly used as a digestive aid. They can help balance your stomach acid levels and calm digestive discomfort — including silent reflux.

How to Be Mindful of Silent Reflux During the Holidays

When the holidays come around and there’s a lot more chocolate at your immediate disposal, you may want to keep silent reflux in mind. Beyond the above mentioned treatments for silent reflux, there are some simple lifestyle changes you can make to better your digestive process:

  • Don’t overeat. Sure, indulge in all of your favorite holiday treats, but don’t go overboard. Getting too stuffed can increase symptoms of silent reflux and leave you feeling worse. Aim to feel about 80% full — enough to know you won’t be hungry in the next hour or two, but not so full you need to lay on the couch post-meal.
  • Chew your food thoroughly. By taking a few extra bites, you’ll give your stomach a boost of confidence with digestion. Since you took the time to manually break down those fibers and proteins along with digestive enzymes in your saliva, it doesn’t have to work so hard to finish the job.
  • Remove stress. We know this is easier said than done, but it is possible. Stress (or high cortisol) is the root cause of many illnesses. Take time to be present. Enjoy every moment with friends and family. Also take time away for yourself when you need to. A few minutes alone in a quiet room practicing deep breathing can do wonders for your nervous system. 

Let BodyBio Help You Reverse Silent Reflux for Good

Although there aren’t many obvious symptoms of silent reflux, we know it still feels scary and uncertain when something is wrong with your body. You aren’t alone on your journey to reverse silent reflux. We have your back — and we have lots of resources you can use to create easy digestion. Our new Gut+ supplement works to improve gut function from the esophagus to the intestines and is a great add-on supplement for holiday digestive support.


El-Serag, H. B., Sweet, S., Winchester, C. C., & Dent, J. (2014). Update on the epidemiology of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease: a systematic review. Gut, 63(6), 871–880.

Alcantara, J., & Anderson, R. (2008). Chiropractic care of a pediatric patient with symptoms associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease, fuss-cry-irritability with sleep disorder syndrome and irritable infant syndrome of musculoskeletal origin. The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, 52(4), 248–255.

Campagnolo, A. M., Priston, J., Thoen, R. H., Medeiros, T., & Assunção, A. R. (2014). Laryngopharyngeal reflux: diagnosis, treatment, and latest research. International archives of otorhinolaryngology, 18(2), 184–191.

Joo, Y. H., Song, Y. S., & Pae, C. U. (2017). Relationship between Depression and Laryngopharyngeal Reflux. Psychiatry investigation, 14(2), 226–229.

Guilliams, T. G., & Drake, L. E. (2020). Meal-Time Supplementation with Betaine HCl for Functional Hypochlorhydria: What is the Evidence?. Integrative medicine (Encinitas, Calif.), 19(1), 32–36.