Many people are familiar with acid reflux and discomfort it can create, but some patients also develop non-acid reflux. Essentially, a person with this condition has non-acidic substances that back up from the stomach into the esophagus. This may cause a range of unpleasant symptoms, including indigestion, coughing, heartburn, and even asthma. Unfortunately, a person with this problem may think he’s dealing with acid reflux and use acid-reflux medication to treat it. If the patient is actually suffering form non-acid reflux, however, the typical acid reflux medications are unlikely to work.
Many of the symptoms of non-acid reflux are similar to those of acid reflux, including heartburn, indigestion, and nausea. In some people, this condition may even lead to the development of a chronic cough or asthma. A person who has this type of reflux may also become hoarse and feel the urge to clear his throat frequently. Sometimes, it may even cause a person to regurgitate a small amount of his stomach contents.
Some experts believe acid reflux medication may be at the root of other reflux symptoms for some patients, though there may be other causes and contributing factors as well. Many patients take medicine to control the acid in their stomachs and prevent it from being pushed up from the stomach into the esophagus. Acid reflux medication often works well for neutralizing the acid, but a patient may develop symptoms anyway. This may happen because the medication does the job of neutralizing stomach acids but cannot stop the contents of the stomach from being pushed up. As a result, the patient experiences the reflux of neutralized stomach contents.
Medical professionals can determine whether a person has non-acid or acid reflux by using esophageal pH monitoring. A pH above four may indicate that the patient is having non-acid reflux, though in some cases, healthcare professionals consider a pH of seven and above an indication of this form. On the other hand, a pH below four would generally indicate that the gastric contents are acidic.
Since the typical treatments for acid reflux don’t usually work for those with the non-acid version, healthcare providers have to use different methods for treating this condition. Often, surgery is used to repair the valve responsible for keeping stomach contents out of the esophagus. In some cases, medication may also help make this valve work better.