Reflux but no burning?

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New Member

Date Joined Oct 2013
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 10/12/2013 10:54 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi all,

I wonder if anyone can throw any light on my own particular experience of reflux.

I've been suffering sporadic attacks of reflux since the first one hit in June this year. The others have all occurred since I also developed other digestive system problems in mid-August (loss of appetite, weight loss, bloating, abdominal pain/cramps, constipation, etc.). Because of the severity of those problems, two weeks ago I was admitted to hospital as an emergency patient and had a CAT scan, colonoscopy and endoscopy performed. The latter showed clear evidence of reflux (I think), in that it showed "tongues" of gastric mucus in the oesophagus, biopsies were taken (results not due until early Nov), and the clinical judgement was "suggested" Barrett's oesophagus.

What I don't understand is that in all the reading that I have done, the main symptom of reflux is usually described as heartburn and sufferers often describe the most unpleasant aspect as a burning sensation in the throat. I have never had either. Instead, I experience reflux as the most disgusting thing I have tasted. I find it hard to describe, but 'bitter' and 'sour' would probably be about right. This taste tends to come in waves every five minutes or so for an hour or more after it starts.

When these reflux attacks strike, it's always when I'm in lying in bed in the early morning, between say 5 and 8am. In all, I still haven't had that many of them, and all but one of them were more than a month ago when I adopted an ultra-bland diet for the other problems. But then last week I had another attack, despite my ultra-bland diet, despite not eating after 7pm in the evening, and despite raising the head of the bed 3 inches. After feeling like I was making some progress, it felt like a real setback.

So to return to my main question: has anyone else had a similar experience of reflux without heartburn or can anyone throw any light on this? I've mentioned this issue to both my family doctor and the specialist at the hospital, but neither seemed to think it is significant.


Veteran Member

Date Joined Jun 2013
Total Posts : 500
   Posted 10/12/2013 1:19 PM (GMT -6)   
Before my surgery, I had TONS of reflux without heart burn. You can have acidic and non acidic reflux and both are damaging to the esophagus over time.

I only started to complain to my doctor after my reflux became acidic enough to start getting into my lungs and burning up my larynx and actually causing me to have pain. When they did my upper GI they did find that there were signs of damage. I wasnt refluxing at night though. my GI performed a 24 hour PH monitor on me and found that I was refluxing all day long, but not at all at night, which was interesting.

Do you currently see a gastroentrologist or GI doctor? My family doctor referred me to one straight off along with an ENT.

I would say if you feel like you are refluxing then it is significant enough to see a specialist for to make sure that everything is working as it should.

Best of luck!

Elite Member

Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 10/12/2013 2:08 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello and welcome to HW,

Reflux refers to the backflow of stomach contents into the esophagus and/or throat.

When stomach contents reflux into the esophagus in an excessive manner, causing tissue injury and symptoms like heartburn and regurgitation, it is called GastroEsophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).

When stomach contents reflux into the throat causing tissue injury and symptoms like hoarseness, throat clearing. increased phlegm and cough, it is called LaryngoPharyngeal Reflux (LPR).

Classic GERD symptoms are: Heartburn; regurgitation.

LPR Symptoms are: Hoarseness; frequent throat clearing; increased phlegm; post-nasal drip; chronic cough; difficulty swallowing (dysphagia); lump-like sensation in throat; choking sensation.

The reflux pattern in the typical GERD patient is a supine, nocturnal reflux (patient refluxing while lying flat at night) while the LPR patient generally refluxes while upright during the day. Remember these are classic symptoms however many of us do not present with classic sx.

People with GERD may experience symptoms such as heartburn, a sour, burning sensation in the back of the throat, chronic cough, laryngitis, and nausea. Because there are often no specific symptoms associated with Barrett's esophagus, it can only be diagnosed with an upper endoscopy and biopsy. I hope they have your biopsy report sooner than the first part of November as I know waiting for results is stressful for most of us.

Remember what I mentioned above, many of us do not present with the common symptoms.

I hope you stick with us and know we are here to support you through this difficult time. Be your own best advocate.



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GERD/Heartburn and Heart/Cardiovascular Disease.

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New Member

Date Joined Oct 2013
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 10/13/2013 5:30 AM (GMT -6)   
Thanks for your supportive comments Steff and Kitt:-)

Steff, it's good to know that my experience of non-acidic reflux is by no means uncommon. So far I've seen my family doctor and the gastroenterology specialists at the hospital where I was admitted as an emergency patient. Being an emergency case meant that I did get a lot of the basic tests (CAT scan, colonoscopy and endoscopy) over with much quicker than would have happened on an out-patient basis, but the downside was that I was only able to grab a quick word with the specialists on their ward round and what I haven't had, and what I desperately need, is a proper office appointment with a gastroenterology specialist. That will happen on the 5 November, which for me cannot come quickly enough.

Thanks for the general information and also for the reassurance that we don't all present the common symptoms. Unfortunately I don't think there is any way to get my biopsy results earlier than 5 November when I have my appointment with the specialist, but I will ask my family doctor about it. I live and work in Spain, and five weeks wait seems to be the norm here for specialist gastroenterology appointments.

On an issue of forum etiquette, I'm still new here so still finding my way around. I have a couple of follow-up questions (about bed raising and dosage of proton pump inhibitors). Is it better to ask them here in this thread keeping all the details of my case together or is it better to start new threads?

Thanks again, Rod
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