View Full Version : Acid Reflux & Sinus symptoms - What's cause and what's effect?

08-10-2009, 01:55 AM
So, I've had symptoms of both the sinus and acid reflux variants for about 3 and a half years. First came the post-nasal drip, then brain fog, headaches and then a chronic cough and wheeziness. All presented within the first year in that order. I didn't have heartburn until just the last 6 months, and it's lasted for weeks at a time.

My sinuses are structurally fine and allergies don't seem to be the culprit. I get occasional sinus infections but they seem to be sparked by some underlying cause.

I've also had accelerated dental decay and my dentist reported that I had a higher acidity level in my mouth then usual.

I know that LPR can present without heartburn, but my acid reflux symptoms have been fairly mild other than that. No vomiting or anything to make me suspect that the acid is coming up very high.

So, I'm trying to figure out if my reflux is the originating cause which has in turn sparked the sinus troubles, or if the constant post-nasal drip for the last few years has actually caused the acid reflux. My symptoms, while pretty much constant, are actually more mild in the morning and seem to worsen when my stomach is empty (in the evening before dinner/etc). Not really the usual presentation...

Also, I did a test involving baking soda and water to test my acidity level - the result (3 times) pointed to my having too LITTLE acid.

I've tried to summarize this whole saga for the last few years and probably left things out, but any commentary/advice/etc is VERY welcome. I'm only 25 now and have racked up a pretty good debt in just trying to diagnose my symptoms to no avail. Everything, including one endoscopy, was normal.


Joel T

08-10-2009, 07:23 PM
What is this test with baking soda?

08-10-2009, 07:50 PM
Interesting... I am 22 and I am in a similar boat. I have what an ENT said was GERD, but I am sure it is LPR because I never had heartburn, just the effects of it. A few months into my new LPR symptoms I began to have pretty bad infections, with the the sinus infection being the worst. I also had an ear infection, and a nasty flu like illness.

As of now, I still have acid coming up.. way up. A few weeks ago I bent over to pick up a pen, and I had acid rush into my mouth. I nearly choked on it, it was so vile. The one thing I wish was gone was the post nasal drip. I can not get rid of it. It has been following me for half a year now.

08-10-2009, 08:01 PM
do you have constant sore throat? That is a classic lpr symptom.
Are you on a PPI?

08-10-2009, 08:30 PM
Thanks for the responses.

I've also had a sensitive/burning throat, and an occasional sore throat - not as constant as the rest of my symptoms.

I took Nexium for about a month and a half without much benefit. I did, however, have issues with bloating and one pretty bad case of food poisoning (due to little acid not killing the bacteria). Right now I'm trying some digestive enzymes and such to see if they do any good. My main concern is that my reflux isn't even the main problem, but just another symptom from my sinus issues. The ONLY thing left that I imagine could be causing my sinus stuff is my long overdue wisdom tooth removal. Haven't found much online to back up that theory though...

Thanks again!

08-12-2009, 12:11 AM
Welp, apparently links are a no-no on this board. It can make it really difficult to share information given that...

The baking soda test just involves taking 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda with 8oz of water first thing in the morning (before eating/drinking anything). Then you time how long it takes you to burp. Less than 2 minutes can indicate too much acid, 2-3 I guess is normal, and beyond 5 you can stop timing. That could be an indication of too little acid, which is what happened with me.

Having too little acid is a condition known as hypochlorhydria, which you can Google if you want to know more.

Hope this helps!

08-12-2009, 04:47 AM
I would be a little careful about using something like a baking soda test to self-evaluate your levels of stomach acid. First of all, there is absolutely no medical evidence that the test is valid.

Second, baking soda is a common (and effective) remedy for mild heartburn because sodium bicarbonate is alkaline that helps neutralize stomach acid. As soon as you take the bicarbonate it will alter the acidity of your stomach but there is no clear connection between belching and alkalinity (belching is a symptom commonly described by people with too much and too little stomach acid).

Low acidity (Achlorhydria) is much less common than acid reflux and typically affects people age 50+ or those with other medical conditions.

08-25-2009, 01:08 AM
Hey Joel,
I know how you feel to an extent...i'm only 17 and have been suffering from intense post nasal drip and throat mucus for about a year. I've also had a few sinus infections in the past year. I'm actually hopeful that i may have acid reflux, because that would explain the post nasal drip (which is giving me the worst breath, and making speaking in public quite difficult, which is always inconvenient!). I'm going to see a doctor very soon, and even if he thinks i don't have reflux, i'm going to demand he gives me meds for it, just to see if they work! My symptoms are pretty bad in the morning, but like you, they seem to get worse when my stomach is empty. For example when i don't eat breakfast, I can hardly swallow, and have to keep clearing my throat all day because of the excessive mucus.
Good luck with everything. If you like, i'll keep you posted as to what the doctor says when i go.

02-17-2010, 06:23 PM
I'm 52 and have had GERD as long as I can remember. Probably because I don't have a stomach valve, go figure. Anyway, I severe dizziness, fogginess and vertigo in my 30's along with the the Gerd, I had at that time an MRI and what they found was that when I would sleep at night, stomach acid would go into my back sinus cavaties. These sinus cavaties are next to your blance centers at the back of your skull, when the stomach acid sits in there, it swells the sinus cavity and the inflammation presses against the balance center causing dizziness and vertigo. It also can create brain splitting migraines, not at the back of your head, but in the sinus area. This is called reflected pain. It has been pointed out to me that people that have severe heartburn are not suffering from too much stomach acid, but from too little. Using baking soda to get rid of your heartburn is dangerous, it can raise your blood pressure and put you in a diabetic state over a long period of use. Nexium never worked for me, at one time my ENT was giving me 4 prilosec a day, that worked, but I don't believe it is good for you. For heartburn, stay on Omiprazale, when it flares, you can try eating 6 roasted almonds OR take 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar OR chew gum. Hope that explains a few things. Good luck!

02-17-2010, 07:46 PM
I have been taking Nexium for a year or so and am going to try and get off the meds as I just don't believe that it's a good thing. I've had the scope down the throat and all was fine....showed I have reflux with some inflammation. I have also heard that if you take 1-2tsp. of apple cider vinegar about 1/2 hour before meals this can help as a lot of times it is too little acid. Interesting as these pills cause us to make even less stomach acid which we do need to digest our food. Since being on Nexium I have just found out that my Iron Stores are completely depleted which is very odd. After a little more research I've found that many other people on the same meds are also anemic. We need the stomach acid to absorp these vitamins and minerals. My worst symtoms are when it affects my throat and I feel like a snake that's just swallowed a goat!!! Also am having trouble with plugged up ears and I'm going to see a ENT next week and I'm almost certain it has to do with this reflux. I'm really going to try and conquer this thing the natural way if I can ever get off these meds. When I do I'll let you know what I found. I will say that when I'm having bad reflux, Gaviscon works pretty good.

02-17-2010, 08:58 PM
Gaviscon works great for me. Also, chook, don't be in such a rush to demand the meds. I know the symptoms bother you but these meds are strong and are not without side effects, one of which is difficulty getting OFF of them once your start on them. The PPIs are expensive and are known to affect mineral absorption. Calcium absorption is a particular concern for me. I really don't want to trade a comforted esophagus for weakened bones.

As for the reflux vs. sinus debate, I had sinus problems for years. Heavy post-nasal drip, sore throats, "cobbled" throats, cough and hoarseness several times a year. The post-nasal drip is WAY better since I started on the PPI. We'll see what happens when I hit a heavier allergy season and/or try to wean off the PPI.

02-17-2010, 11:25 PM
I tried nexium for a while, and though it helped with the reflux a little, the constant mucus in my throat and post nasal drip is as bad as ever. Abbydabbydew, you said your post nasal drip is better now that you've started Gaviscon. Would you recommend Gaviscon? Can you please tell me a bit about it? like how many times a day you take it etc. Thanks so much :) I appreciate it!

02-18-2010, 04:43 AM
Please define the acroym PPI. I went to the web page they suggest up above in this post. Very interesting! I am going to start working in that direction and see where I get. As to being able to get off the Omiprazole, I agree it is almost impossible your body becomes used to taking it. The lack of acid in the stomach concept is sound and may be more likely
what I have been going through all these years. You point out anemia, yes I have it, I have the initial stages of osteoporosis, I am that stage in my life they expect it, I don't. I have just started a new diet through Medical Weightloss Center. It is mainly PROTEIN, I feel so much better. There is very little sugar, natural or fake, no salt if possible. I think this may be the time to change the acid reflux and will let you all know how it goes. A side affect of no salt and no sugar has been no osteoarthritis. WHOOPEE!

02-18-2010, 02:13 PM
chook - I need to clarify. The Gaviscon helps to soothe my throat and esophagus when my LPR is acting up. It does not address the post-nasal drip. What MAY be helping the post-nasal drip is the acid reduction I'm getting from the omeprazole, but I can't be sure. Truthfully my post-nasal drip is also helped by antihistamines and also by sleeping with my head/chest elevated. I've also had luck with Veramyst (steroidal) nasal spray but try to not use that too much because it does dry out my nasal passages.

melsstv - PPI is Proton Pump Inhibitor, a class of drugs that includes many of those we talk about here - Omeprazole (Prilosec), Nexium, Protonix, Kapidex, etc. These are the strongest acid-reducing drugs prescribed for reflux conditions and most of us here would agree that you don't take them unless the first two lines of defense - antacids and H2 blockers - don't work sufficiently. They knock back stomach acid by as much as 85-90% but then most people are miserable when they stop taking them and the acid returns (seemingly with a vengeance). BUT, like most drugs, you don't really want to stay on them for life either because they do have side effects.

02-19-2010, 03:30 AM
OK, DUH - I knew that! We're talking Prilosec, Newium, Omiprazole. I've been taking them for about 15 years. After reading this thread I decided to quit. I quit taking them yesterday morning, I am doing OK so far, but let me qualify what else I am doing. 1 week ago, I quit drinking alcohol..... period. Two days ago, I quit sugar (glucose, fructose, sucrose, etc) and salt and increased my protein intake to 70% of my diet. I now treat my reflux, the one time I got it yesterday with 6 raw almonds (go figure) works so far. I will keep everyone up to date. These are drastic changes, but at 52 it is time for it. I am researching the concept of not having enough stomach acid as mentioned earlier in this post, I think it is worth pursuing, I am now using more vinegar in my everyday foods too. Wish me luck!

02-19-2010, 03:14 PM
I do wish you terrific luck and please check back in and keep us posted. The GI increased my Prilosec prescription to the 40mg strength, I got it today, and I'm looking at those bottles like they are THE ENEMY. I do not want to start on that 40mg strength. I've banished them to a kitchen cabinet until I have tried everything else I can think of first to keep this reflux at bay.

02-19-2010, 07:35 PM
abbydabbydew- Thanks for clarifying, but I do realise that the only way to stop the post nasal drip is by treating the reflux, as this is what causes it. I don't think I phrased my question very well, I'm sorry. I just wanted to know what you thought about the Gaviscon, as I don't know anybody else who's tried it. I was on nexium for a while as I said, but it did nothing to help my symptoms (including the pnd). I thought that I might have more luck treating the reflux with Gaviscon, and hopefully this would in turn lessen the post nasal drip.

02-20-2010, 04:57 AM
OK, here we go. I forgot a few things that I have quit, so add these to the list. I quit intake of fats, limiting caffience to 2 cuppas black in the AM and 32 oz of diet pop .... Alright day 3 no reflux. Yeah!!!... If you can get your hands on a the Medical Weight Loss Diet or get on it, you will have the keys to all of the no no's and all the really good advice they have to offer.... I haven't eaten any potatoes, bread, regular salad dressing. I am increasing the use of vinegar (my idea per this web site) and olive oil in my diet. Regardless, I am eating more food than I can handle. Couldn't finish my dinner last night. As to the Post Nasal Drip, headaches, dizziness, sluggish feeling, crawling on the floor vomiting (vertigo), that is directly related to stomach acid in your sinus cavaties at night. That was a little extreme, but that is what I went through in my 30's. How fun is that, gives you wonderful breath too. The only resolution to that is to stop the acid, from coming up your throat at night. I don't know if this is the correct solution for everyone, but the article about 15% of those diagnosed with GERD are misdiagnosed nailed it for me. I believe that whoever posted the article about not having enough acid is right on after my experiences for the last three days. I have brittle nails, mild anemia, I know I have been poisoning my system for the last 15 years and it was all for naught. Wish me luck, I will keep you all updated, understand that what I have done is an extreme, but I am 52 and needed to find solutions to live will for the next 50. I will keep you all updated. THX for your support. Mel SSL

02-20-2010, 06:43 AM
chook - Post-nasal drip may or may not be caused by acid reflux. It could be related to allergies, sinus infections, etc. that are independent of AR. Just wanted to throw that out there. I'm not sure my post-nasal drip is related to my LPR at all. Might be; might not be. I'm not sure about much of anything where reflux is concerned! It's all rather a guessing game most of the time.

02-20-2010, 07:06 AM
I'd go slowly with getting off ppi meds. I did that once to and for some reason became so constipated I thought I'd explode! First eliminate 1 pill per week, then 2 etc. etc.
I am down to a 1x40mg nexium every other day and doing pretty good. I tend to chew 1 gaviscon right before I go to bed just in case there is any acid reflux. I don't notice acid reflux at night per say but I can tell in the morning if I've had some reflux by the way my throat feels. I drink Aloe Vera Juice 1xDay (tastes bad) this helps to heal your esophogus and also added bonus of keeping you "regular". I also try and make sure that I drink close to 8 glasses of water per day and try to get some fibre each day! I just bought a book that talks a lot about bowel mvmnt. and reflux connection. I also drink and herbal tea mix once a day as well (if I remember). Don't get me wrong ....I'm not a total health nut freak.....LOVE my coffee and won't give it up for anything.........though I try and cut back a bit during times of reflux. Gaviscon really does work differently than many other antacids as it creates a foam barrier that coats your throat and lays on top of whatever is in your stomach and it really does prevent acid from backing up. I do consider it a bandage but it's really important not to let that initial acid back up at all or you will continue to feel the effects of the acid on your esophogus etc.

02-20-2010, 10:07 AM
Good tips, nyico. Thanks. I started trying to eliminate Prilosec last week but think I went too fast, so I stepped back up again. I may go ahead and try what you're doing - the 40mg but every other day. The GI prescribed it mostly (I think) for the convenience of taking it 1/day instead of the 20mg twice/day, but I really don't want to take that much omeprazole at one time. I think it's delayed release tho', so perhaps there's not much difference between taking the 40mg vs. two 20mg? I dunno - anyone more knowledgeable than me want to weigh in on this? :confused:

02-21-2010, 05:27 AM
Day 4 - NO ACID REFLUX -A little constipation, but that is easily cured with Benefiber. I don't have any while I'm sleeping at night either, how do I know this 20 years experience! I am cured. If you would like to know how, review this thread and my posts. I have suffered for 20 years, no more, it was always so simple and I was too ignorant to figure it out. Bye Mel

02-21-2010, 08:45 AM
This discusion is mind opening and frustrating all at the same time. I've had acid reflux for 15+ years, sinus for the last 4-5 and now I have burning mouth that feels like acid is dripping down through my gums. No doctor and dentist I have been to has even mentioned a connection to these ailments. Is there a doctor or a dentist around that knows that these conditions might be connected? Seems the ones I've been to are only interested in treating their particular field of medicine..the ENT treat sinus, the gastro treats acid reflux, the dentist treats tooth decay. They have even gone as far as to deny any connection. Meanwhile, I suffer with whatever. If we know there's a connection, why doesn't the medical field? Anyone know of any research or clinical trials to this effect?

02-22-2010, 03:25 AM
Is there a doctor or a dentist around that knows that these conditions might be connected?
There are lots of doctors - ENTs, Allergists and Gastroenterologists who are aware of the connection between acid reflux and chronic sinus issues. There have been a number of studies that have explored the link between the two conditions and the success in improving sinus symptoms by treating acid reflux.

Unfortunately, sometimes you have to spend time searching for the right doctor to help deal with these inter-connected conditions, so I would encourage you to keep looking and be bold in asking any doctors you see if they're aware of the connection.

02-22-2010, 03:48 AM
Hi - No, there are no doctors out there that cover all of the items that you are dealing with. I have spent 20 years looking for a cure. If you are using glucose, sucrose or any other type of sugar in your diet quit. If you are using salts, quit. If you drink alcohol, quit. Increase your protien intake and decrease carbs and fats. Let me know if your gum bleeding is cyclical, it often is with us girls even if we don't notice it most of the time. I thought mine was all the time, but have since figured out is only about 3 weeks out of the month LOL. < edited> I have not had GERD, bleeding gums, achy joints for a week now. That is not the norm for me, usually I take Omiprazole every morning and I am lucky if I don't get unrelievable heartburn at least once during the day, with mild heartburn all day. Best of luck ! Mel

02-22-2010, 07:24 AM
I do not have bleeding gums anymore (I used to about a year ago). I have a burning in my gums and on my tongue. I have been on a low sugar, low carb diet ever since my hubby got diabeties last year. In fact, that's when this all started. I first noticed the burning gums while eating apples every day and thought maybe that was the cause. Unfortunately, it wasn't. I had the TIF procedure in December, hoping that if it was my reflux causing the burning, that would help. It didn't. If you still feel what you have done will help me, let me know and I'll e-mail you direct. Thanks for your time.

02-23-2010, 03:31 AM
It sounds that you are at least on your way to beginning to mend, I would guess that when you went on your husbands diet it helped to stabilize a certain amount of PMS or PMDD. I don't have an immediate answer for the problem you have, but I will help you with your research. I am so happy to be over my GERD, that I feel like I have been blessed with miracle. 20 years of hell, because of medical ignorance!

02-23-2010, 03:37 AM
p.s. - have you increased all of your B- vitamins to rule out a vitamin deficiency? I use alot of B-6 and get B-12 shots once a week. The B-12 shots are available from a weight-loss clinic, I am not obese, but the Medical Weight Loss Diet has gotten rid of all of my GERD. Thinking I'd like to open a clinic to help people like myself who have suffered forever. Has your GERD gone away except for what you believe is tied to your burning mouth?

03-01-2010, 04:54 AM
Hi - Found something called "Burning Mouth Syndrome", it is not tied to GERD, but it sounds like that is what you have. Try hunting that down

03-01-2010, 08:32 AM
I have researched burning mouth sydrome and feel that's probably what I have. But, i'm exploring any possible cause...dental/acid reflux/hormones/sinus. I have had all the bloodwork recommended for burning mouth but nothing seems adnormal. Have had all the Bs tested and they are normal. Thanks for your recommendations. It helps to know that somebody will at least take me seriously. The doctors give me their ear for the 12 minute appontment and than are on their way. I will say that I've found some really great dentists who have gone out of their way to help, but unfortunately everything they have tried hasn't made a difference. And than there's the cost of all this!

03-01-2010, 08:37 AM
To MELSSTV - In answer to your question. My acid reflux went away for a while after the TIF procedure but I was constantly fighting the feeling of reflux, especially at night. I finally broke down a week ago and am back on one PPI a day...which is an improvement over the 4 I was taking.

03-02-2010, 04:31 AM
Hi, I have been through 30 years of hell and would like to help you if I could. I don't have the burning mouth, but but have had serious PMDD and Reflux. I am on that has gotten rid of my GERD totally. I haven't taken any PPI's in 2 weeks and have only had a spot of normal heartburn for about 1/2 hour one day since I quit. I don't know why this diet is working, but it is and it is really easy to follow. Don't let the doctors tell you it is all in your head, I've heard the same thing myself, made me feel hopeless. Figured out Dr's can be pretty stupid. Good Luck Melody

03-02-2010, 04:34 AM
Hawkins - Have you read the information from Mayo Clinic on Burning Mouth Syndrome? p.s. - even if they are not finding anything, it is because there are really no good tests for it. Mel

03-02-2010, 07:58 PM
Those of you following other threads know I'm trying to wean from the PPI and stopped cold-turkey this past weekend on account of a stomach virus I picked up. Well, 5 days of no PPIs and today I'm noticing that my sinus drainage is way back up, the ole' sore throat is returning, and my voice is changing. Aaaargggh - it is frustrating because I do not know if this is related to stopping the PPI. I NEVER experience heartburn and it is never obvious to me that I'm refluxing. This sinus linkage is perplexing, but my ENT said the linkage is often there with LPR. While I was on the PPI I did seem to have next to no sinus drainage for the first time in years. It was a beautiful thing! If the sinus symptoms don't recede soon, I guess I'll either restart some PPI therapy or go back and let the ENT take a look in there again to see what's what.

03-02-2010, 10:00 PM
abbydabbydew- Thanks for clarifying, but I do realise that the only way to stop the post nasal drip is by treating the reflux, as this is what causes it. I don't think I phrased my question very well, I'm sorry. I just wanted to know what you thought about the Gaviscon, as I don't know anybody else who's tried it. I was on nexium for a while as I said, but it did nothing to help my symptoms (including the pnd). I thought that I might have more luck treating the reflux with Gaviscon, and hopefully this would in turn lessen the post nasal drip.

Chook: Your post is a few days old and you may have already received the requested information on Gaviscon. But Gaviscon is a special type of antiacid called an alginate. It forms a layer over your esophagus and the top of whatever is in your stomach so it does not back up into your throat. There are Gaviscon pills and Gaviscon liquid. I prefer the liquid. I take a tablespoon at night to coat my throat and help prevent reflux. I have found it very effective as I do not wake up with nausea and throat irritation in the mornings. I think it can cause some rebound if you use too much which is why I use a little bit at bedtime only.

Hope this helps.