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Digerati 08-10-2009 12:55 AM

Acid Reflux & Sinus symptoms - What's cause and what's effect?
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

painter207 08-10-2009 06:23 PM

Re: Acid Reflux & Sinus symptoms - What's cause and what's effect?
What is this test with baking soda?

blues1986 08-10-2009 06:50 PM

Re: Acid Reflux & Sinus symptoms - What's cause and what's effect?
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.

painter207 08-10-2009 07:01 PM

Re: Acid Reflux & Sinus symptoms - What's cause and what's effect?
do you have constant sore throat? That is a classic lpr symptom.
Are you on a PPI?

Digerati 08-10-2009 07:30 PM

Re: Acid Reflux & Sinus symptoms - What's cause and what's effect?
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!

Digerati 08-11-2009 11:11 PM

Re: Acid Reflux & Sinus symptoms - What's cause and what's effect?
Welp, apparently links are a no-no on this board. It can make it [I]really[/I] 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!

gcsjr 08-12-2009 03:47 AM

Re: Acid Reflux & Sinus symptoms - What's cause and what's effect?
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.

chook439 08-25-2009 12:08 AM

Re: Acid Reflux & Sinus symptoms - What's cause and what's effect?
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.

melsstv 02-17-2010 05:23 PM

Re: Acid Reflux & Sinus symptoms - What's cause and what's effect?
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!

Nyico 02-17-2010 06:46 PM

Re: Acid Reflux & Sinus symptoms - What's cause and what's effect?
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.

abbydabbydew 02-17-2010 07:58 PM

Re: Acid Reflux & Sinus symptoms - What's cause and what's effect?
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.

chook439 02-17-2010 10:25 PM

Re: Acid Reflux & Sinus symptoms - What's cause and what's effect?
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!

melsstv 02-18-2010 03:43 AM

Re: Acid Reflux & Sinus symptoms - What's cause and what's effect?
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!

abbydabbydew 02-18-2010 01:13 PM

Re: Acid Reflux & Sinus symptoms - What's cause and what's effect?
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.

melsstv 02-19-2010 02:30 AM

Re: Acid Reflux & Sinus symptoms - What's cause and what's effect?
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!

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