Many people understand acid reflux when the classic burning in the chest or discomfort after a particularly spicy or greasy meal is present. They may take some antacids and drink a glass of milk and then dismiss the symptoms as a normal side effect of the meal they just consumed. Millions of Americans deal with these problems by grinning and bearing it, so to speak. They will continue to dismiss the warning signs, blaming the food, until the symptoms are more frequent than they aren’t, or until the symptoms are present without food. But, some people suffer from acid reflux without having the traditional burning in the chest, that still cause significant discomfort and can lead to long-term problems if left untreated.

Join us in today’s post as we discuss some of the not-so-obvious signs of reflux and GERD. If you have any of these symptoms persistently, find relief at Southern Reflux Center

Chronic cough.

Chronic cough is a common symptom of reflux. The cough is caused by gastric contents being breathed into the lungs, or aspiration. The cough is the body’s attempt to clear the lungs and is also a symptom of irritation to the airway that the acid causes.

Excess saliva.

Creating more saliva is your body’s way of attempting to neutralize stomach acid that is burning your esophagus. In those who suffer from GERD, they may make more saliva as a preventative measure to help coat their esophagus and protect it from the acid that is not yet present. Waterbrash is the sudden excess saliva that occurs in response to reflux and may minimize how much pain or burning you feel. Hypersalivation can help mask some of the burning but does not help prevent or treat the reflux.

Constant throat clearing.

Gastric contents are caustic to the tissues and membranes of the esophagus and mouth. Chronic throat clearing is a result of inflammation and irritation to these tissues.


A loose lower esophageal sphincter (LES) allows not just stomach acid to enter the esophagus, but air as well, manifesting as burps. Some people experience intense belching due to a constricted esophagus as well. These burps can range from being a minor nuisance to an uncomfortable belch.

Tooth pain.

Stomach acid is incredibly caustic and causes excessive wear and tear to teeth as well as enamel erosion. Long-term exposure of the teeth to stomach acid can cause tooth decay and sensitivity.

Difficulty swallowing.

Difficulty swallowing, or dysphagia, is fairly common in those who suffer from chronic acid reflux or GERD. Chronic exposure to gastric contents causes an esophageal narrowing and subglottic stenosis (narrowing of the subglottis), which makes it very difficult to swallow anything, including your own saliva.

Bad breath.

GERD is a common culprit of bad breath for a few reasons. First, other people may actually be able to smell the regurgitated stomach acid on your breath. Additionally, people who suffer from GERD are not always able to completely digest all of their food and this decaying food can cause unwanted smells on your breath.

Sore throat.

A sore throat may be present with or without esophageal burning and may persist once the active reflux has resolved. Stomach acid that has made it to the throat can cause irritation to the tissue of the tongue and throat, leaving it irritated and tender.

Hoarse voice.

When vocal cords are exposed to acid, it causes inflammation and irritation, resulting in a hoarse voice. Chronic irritation to the vocal cords results in reflux laryngitis.

Bitter taste.

A bitter or sour taste results directly from tasting regurgitated stomach acid. Persistent reflux can cause chronic bitter taste in the mouth when taste buds are affected.

(Nighttime) Choking

Choking, that happens mainly after laying down for the night, is caused by stomach acid, and sometimes food, entering the esophagus and the back of the throat. In those who suffer from a weak LES, this can happen at any time, but is more common when laying down.

Feeling full after eating very little.

If you feel full quickly or after eating very little, it can be an indication that you have silent reflux. The full feeling can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, bloating, or weight loss, or can be a single symptom. It is generally caused because food is not completely being digested.

If you have been experiencing any of these telling symptoms and have been dismissing them because they aren’t the “classic” signs of GERD, schedule your evaluation. At Southern Reflux Center, we specialize in reflux and GERD management. We have the skills and technology to make an accurate diagnosis and provide you with a variety of treatment options. You can find relief from your symptoms and live a more comfortable, healthy life. Contact us to schedule your appointment today.