Silent reflux - What is it and how is it treated?

Silent reflux can be difficult to spot. This blog post explains why and what the symptoms are. It also focuses on what treatments are available if you have a child with silent reflux. Finally, it focuses on what you can do yourself. 

Important: In case of suspected illness, we recommend contacting your own doctor for a consultation.

What is silent reflux?

Silent reflux is a diagnosis where stomach contents pass up into the oesophagus, but instead of coming out as regurgitation, they pass back into the stomach again. However, it is not only the stomach contents that go back into the oesophagus, as sometimes gases and vapours are also present.

A child with silent reflux can also regurgitate some of the time and still have silent reflux. Although the name silent reflux could indicate that the child is not in pain and is quiet, that is not why it is called this. Silent reflux can be just as painful for your baby as reflux. "Silent" refers to whether your baby is regurgitating or not.

Are you unsure if your baby has reflux? Read more about reflux right here.

What are the symptoms of silent reflux? 

There are many symptoms of silent reflux, which is why it can be difficult to recognise if your baby has silent reflux. But what makes it harder to recognise is that you don't see your baby's spit-up. It is the regurgitation that makes reflux easier to recognise.

The most common symptoms are:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Pain
  • Not liking to lie down
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Milk goes down the wrong throat easily
  • Lots of drooling
  • Sour odour coming out of the mouth
  • Red around the eyes
  • Wheezing and wheezing
  • Crying when burping
  • Lying with the neck bent backwards
  • Apnoea

Again, we recommend contacting your doctor if you have any doubts about your child's condition and/or you suspect that your child has silent reflux.

What are the treatments for silent reflux?

Treatment of silent reflux in a baby often involves non-medical measures. An osteopath, acupuncturist, chiropractor or cranio-sacral therapist can often be effective in helping your baby with silent reflux. Medical professionals are also involved here, such as ear specialists, dieticians, allergy specialists, etc.

Most babies' silent reflux subsides by the age of 1 year.


What can you do yourself? 

There are various things you can do to minimise your baby's pain.

  • For example, you can raise the headboard of your baby's bed so that they are in a high position.
  • It's a good idea to wait 20 minutes after your baby has finished eating before putting them to bed so that the milk can pass through their system.
  • It's also a good idea to try to avoid cow's milk in your baby's diet and avoid overeating.


Frequently asked questions about silent reflux

What is silent reflux?

When a baby has silent reflux, the contents of the stomach go up into the oesophagus, but instead of coming out as regurgitation, they go back into the stomach again. This is painful for the child.

How is silent reflux treated?

For many babies, silent reflux can be treated with non-medical measures. Therefore, an osteopath, chiropractor, acupuncturist or cranio-sacral therapist can often help your baby.