Can You Have Non-Acid Reflux?

Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Guide
  • When most of think of reflux, we usually think of “acid” reflux. However, non-acid reflux can also occur and can cause unpleasant symptoms. Using relatively new diagnostic procedures, doctors now have the ability to detect gastroesophageal reflux episodes whether they are acidic or not. These new diagnostic techniques can be especially helpful to patients who have not had success with some of the common reflux medications.


    It was not too long ago, that in order for a doctor to diagnose you with reflux, you would have to have a test show that you had “acid-like” liquid in the esophagus.  However, there was argument over what pH number should be considered “acidic” and it was also discovered that even when someone did not have acidic reflux, they still could have bothersome reflux symptoms. For example, in one study, it was shown that 86% of patients still experienced acid reflux even though they were taking reflux medication twice a day (Mainie et al., 2006). It was also assumed that patients who had non-acid reflux had a more mild form of the disease (Martinez et al., 2003) but we now know that those with both acidic and non-acidic reflux can suffer daily if they do not receive adequate treatment.

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    These findings support what I was hinting at in my Sharepost entitled, “What Is Heartburn?” about how GERD can be a very complex condition with many different causes, symptoms, and required treatments. Today, gastroenterologists understand that multiple methods of diagnosis (including patient reports) may be necessary to understand a patient’s acid reflux.

Published On: February 21, 2014