August 31

16 comments

How To Know If Reflux Is Causing Your Throat Issues Or If It’s A Thyroid Nodule

By Sunny Brigham, MS, CNS, LDN

August 31, 2021

minutes read time

16 Comments


In working with women with Hashimoto’s, one of the greatest mysteries we uncover for them is reflux. Reflux...as in acid reflux or silent reflux. I find that many with Hashimoto’s Disease struggle with reflux and have no clue they do! It’s because they don’t know what the signs of reflux are. They’re aware of the symptoms but attribute those symptoms to something else.

That problem you have with swallowing may not be a nodule. More commonly, it’s reflux. But because no one ever told you that reflux with Hashimoto’s is common, you have no clue that you have it. Or even what to do about it. Or, better yet, what the crazy symptoms or signs of reflux are!

After reading this article, you’ll learn why you have some odd sinus and throat things happening and how to reduce the incidence of them by focusing on the two main causes for women with Hashimoto’s so that you can begin to heal your body and prevent further damage to your throat. 

Keep reading to learn what those two causes are!

Signs of Reflux or Reflux Symptoms

Reflux, most commonly known as acid reflux, is very common. Most people at some point have suffered from acid reflux. And have quickly realized it’s not something they want to deal with on a daily basis. 

Reflux may be happening daily and you may be dismissing it. 

Not everyone that has reflux has that classic burning sensation in their chest. That’s not an everyday occurrence with reflux. For some, it can be! But for most women with Hashimoto’s, it isn’t. 

Before we can get into what you can do to reduce those annoying throat symptoms, you need to understand first what the symptoms are. Most women with Hashimoto’s have several of these symptoms but either…

  • Think it’s allergies and pay it no attention
  • Or get concerned thinking it’s a thyroid nodule

Nodules can cause some of the symptoms I’m going to go over. But not all. And, it’s not common that a nodule will cause the majority of these symptoms. When nodules happen, the most common symptoms they create are difficulty swallowing or breathing. 

But the signs of reflux are much different. They include… 
  • Chronic dry cough due to itchy throat
  • Itchy throat
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Excess mucus production in the throat
  • Acid taste in the mouth
  • Pressure or gas in the chest
  • Burning in the chest or throat
  • Laryngitis - or feeling like talking it difficult
  • Increased symptoms of asthma
  • Regurgitation of food in the mouth
  • Troubles swallowing
  • Feeling like you have a lump in your throat
  • Symptoms can get worse at night
  • Nausea (especially on an empty stomach or in the morning)
  • Bloating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Burning stomach

You may be contributing a lot of these symptoms to your thyroid nodule. Or even to allergies. When they are actually happening because of reflux. 

As reflux gets worse because of the lack of attention, the symptoms tend to get worse as well. Overtime, unchecked or untreated reflux can cause damage to the throat and the stomach. 

Reflux is definitely something that you need to get a handle on. 

Two Common Causes of Reflux

There are a ton of different reasons that someone can have reflux. Some reasons would be…

  • Having too much acid in your stomach
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Overeating at meal times
  • Laying down directly after overeating at a meal
  • H. pylori infection
  • Weakened lower esophageal sphincter (LES)
  • Consuming foods you’re intolerant to
  • Stress
  • Consuming highly acidic foods (coffee, tomatoes, etc)

There are other reasons but these are the most common. When it comes to Hashimoto’s, the most MOST common are…

  • Stress
  • Consuming foods you’re intolerant to

When you consume foods that you’re intolerant to, your immune system reacts. It’s important to remember that about 70% of your immune system lies inside your intestinal tract. When you continually consume foods you’re intolerant to, you get a lot of bloat...as well as a lot of inflammation. 

This bloat will cause pressure of the LES allowing for acid to get into your esophagus. But that inflammation is going to cause changes to your stomach acid production. And, it’ll create an allergy type reaction in the body (stuffy nose, running nose, etc). 

Stress creates changes to the stomach lining allowing your body to be more susceptible to reflux issues. If you’re noticing many of the signs of reflux listed above, you may want to have a think about how well you’re managing your stress and whether you’re consuming foods you’re intolerant to. 

It’s important to note that rarely is reflux due to excess acid in the stomach. Taking acid reducers can cause nutrient absorption issues. Especially nutrients like calcium, B12, and iron. Reflux is almost always because of displaced stomach acid. 

This really applies to anyone, but especially to women with Hashimoto’s.

Gastritis

I don’t want to spend  a ton of time talking about gastritis in this article because the article is really about reflux. But, I do think it warrants a little chat because unchecked reflux can cause gastritis. 

Also, autoimmune gastritis is common in those with Hashimoto’s. But most women with Hashimoto’s don’t know this little fun fact of information. Or haven’t been told of the possibilities. Let’s start with discussing what gastritis is. 

Gastritis is inflammation of the stomach lining. If your stomach is burning, likely the lining is inflamed. The longer this goes on, the worse things get. You can develop ulcers from this.

About 40% of those with autoimmune gastritis also have Hashimoto’s Disease. That’s a fairly high number! As I’ve mentioned before, when you have one autoimmune condition, you’re three times more likely to develop a second or a third condition. 

Unchecked gastritis can cause MORE nutrient deficiencies in the body. Not to mention, it’s very uncomfortable! This is something to be aware of.

Now that you know the likelihood that your throat issues are being caused by a nodule is slim. It’s more likely to be caused by reflux, you can start working towards reducing those symptoms. 

Remember, the two greatest causes of reflux are…

  • Food
  • Stress

Determine which one is your greatest contributor. And work on fixing that one first! 

In the comments, tell me what new symptom you learned about was actually reflux!

  • I definitely have a few of those symptoms. Lump in the throat and tightness in the throat being the most prevalent. I went to the ER and the Doctor said I have fluid in my ears because my eustatian tubes are not draining and I have post nasal drip. I was prescribed a nasal spray. But at the same time I have noticed an increase in nausea especially in the morning! It’s just so confusing.

    • Another fun side effect of reflux is dysfunction in the eustachian tubes…specifically not draining. It’s not a common one so I didn’t list it but if you’re having the post-nasal drip, morning nausea, and throat changes…it sounds like reflux could be a very real possibility for you!

  • I didn’t realize post nasal drip, excess mucus production in the throat, feeling like lump in throat and bloating were all signs. Will keep these all in mind and be more aware.

    I am also almost constantly clearing my throat. It’s so annoying. Working my way with the food log so trying to figure out foods which cause the clearing my throat. Could it be reflux symptom with that too?

    Thank you for sending. Very interesting.

  • Definitely have the lump in the throat feeling periodically, not always. In addition I will have to clear my throat. The odd thing is I usually don’t have these symptoms together. I can almost always connect it to food, especially after starting this program.

  • while i do have gastritis, h pylori and hashimotos i never have stomach burning. sometimes nausea or diarrhea. the feeling i have in my throat very often that makes me wonder if it is a nodule, is soreness on the sides of my throat. it pulses.its weird. also, though less often, i will have lump in throat, scratchy, hoarse voice. wondering if i should have another thyroid ultrasound. i think the last was 2010, or if this is all reflux?

  • Thanks for this blog. I am doing a food log to see what I may be intolerant to that is causing the lump in my throat. So far, I seem to have the same symptoms, no matter what I eat. It’s only been a week with the log, so hopefully as I continue on I’ll make some discoveries.

  • My doctor prescribed omeprazole for reflux. It made my symptoms much worse. I tried two other acid blockers and reflux was progressively getting worse. I have been to a naturopath and had a herbal mix made and supplements of B12 iron and b complex. Feeling alot better now. I had already cut out gluten dairy and sugar 6 months ago but still had reflux until visiting naturopath. However I do still have a mucus feeling in my throat.any suggestions appreciated

    • That’s great you’re getting the help you deserve and are making positive changes! Mucus is going to still be silent reflex. Remember…food and stress are the biggest triggers. What have you done about both of those? Getting off gluten, dairy, and sugar is just a step in the right direction. There are likely other foods.

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