6 Acid Reflux Signs You Might Miss

by Jennifer Mitchell Wilson B.S. Dietetics, Dietitian, Health Professional

Most people know the basic symptoms of acid reflux: burning and pain in the throat and chest. However, there are many symptoms that people may not associate with acid reflux, which can delay treatment. Check out these symptoms to see if you may be dealing with acid reflux, and don't forget to mention them to your physician.


While most of us chalk up frequent coughing to a cold or allergy, many people with a chronic cough actually have acid reflux disease. Acid reflux can cause chronic cough by irritating the throat and splashing it with stomach contents. This triggers the body to try to get rid of the acid by coughing it out. If you have a cough that extends beyond the two weeks it takes to get rid of a virus, you should be evaluated by a physician.

Nausea and vomiting

Many people don't associate nausea and vomiting with acid reflux disease, but it can be a very common symptom. In fact, in some cases, nausea is the only symptom of acid reflux. If you find yourself frequently dealing with nausea and vomiting, make an appointment to see your doctor.

Changes in your voice

Some people with acid reflux will experience changes with their voice. These changes are caused by acid damaging the throat and vocal cords. This may seem like a mild issue, but for someone who sings or speaks publicly for work, it can seriously lower their quality of life. Thankfully, most voice changes will improve after the acid reflux is adequately treated.

Bad breath

Bad breath can also be a sign of acid reflux. When foods don't digest properly and are refluxed into the throat and mouth, they stink. The only way to completely rid yourself of this kind of bad breathe is to adequately treat your acid reflux disease. Licorice tea and fresh basil may help lessen the symptoms in the meantime.

Dental issues

Some people with chronic acid reflux experience issues with their teeth. This is because acid from refluxed stomach contents can damage the enamel and weaken teeth. It is so important to keep regular dental cleaning appointments and inform your dentist about your acid reflux. Many times, dentists are the first to notice a problem with acid reflux.

Rinsing your mouth with water after reflux episodes can also help, but don't brush your teeth right away. Brushing teeth just exposed to acid can cause the enamel to wear down. Wait an hour before brushing.

Swallowing issues

Swallowing issues can also be caused by acid reflux disease. Acid reflux can cause esophagitis, which is swelling and inflammation in the esophagus. When left untreated, it can progress to strictures or narrowing of the esophagus. All three of these issues make swallowing difficult. If you experience frequent choking spells or a feeling of being unable to completely swallow, you should talk with your physician immediately.

Jennifer has a bachelor's degree in dietetics as well as graduate work in public health and nutrition. She has worked with families dealing with digestive disease, asthma and food allergies for the past 12 years. Jennifer also serves the Board of Directors for Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association (PAGER).

Jennifer Mitchell Wilson
Meet Our Writer
Jennifer Mitchell Wilson

Jennifer Mitchell Wilson is a dietitian and mother of three girls. Two of her children have dealt with acid reflux disease, food allergies, migraines, and asthma. She has a Bachelor of Science in dietetics from Harding University and has done graduate work in public health and nutrition through Eastern Kentucky University. In addition to writing for HealthCentral, she does patient consults and serves on the Board of Directors for the Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association.