People often ask me can acid reflux cause ear pain or can acid reflux cause earache? If you have been suffering from pain in your ears yet there seems to be no clear cause, then in fact your ear pain could be coming from acid reflux believe it or not.
I know at first thought this may not make sense and for me when I was affected I was rightly confused myself. Let me explain how this happens in the first place.
Understanding How Acid Reflux Can Affect Your Ears
Whether you only suffer from minor acid reflux symptoms or have a more notable problem like GERD or LPR (silent reflux) each set of people can be affected. Out of the 3 sets of people the people with LPR are they most likely to be affected. If you didn’t know someone with LPR doesn’t have the typical reflux symptoms like heartburn but is most commonly affected by pain in their throat.
The notable difference between someone with the likes of GERD and LPR in this case is that typically someone who has minor acid reflux or GERD won’t experience throat symptoms and this is because the acid isn’t refluxing as far up as in the case with LPR. Whereas for someone with LPR it is a frequent occurrence to have acid reach up towards the throat and mouth area. The reason this is worth mentioning is because this is exactly the same area where the acid can enter the ears where it will arrogate and inflame them.
How this actually happens is due to the tube that connects the ear to the throat called the eustachian tube. When someone is having reflux that is entering their throat this can lead to said acid entering this eustachian tube which then of course connects directly to the inner ear. This acid then causes inflammation and irritation to the ear.
At this point you may be asking the question “how does that work?” because plenty of people can eat and drink acidic foods/drinks and they are not affected and that would be mostly true. While there are little studies done to cover this topic, it seems clear to me that is isn’t only the acid causing the damage to the middle ear but something that is contained within it called pepsin.
In fact there was one study which covered how pepsin effected the middle ear and there was a correlation to show the pepsin was affecting and damaging the inner ear caused by acid reflux – you can read the study here. If you didn’t know pepsin is a digestive enzyme that is produced in the stomach to help break down proteins. When it comes up with the acid it will basically try to digest anything in comes in contact with which includes your inner ears. The pepsin is the main reason a lot of people suffer from LPR and I believe someone who has LPR is more prone to being affected by ear ache caused by acid reflux than someone who has minor acid reflux or GERD.
Acid Reflux Ear Pain – How to Treat
Luckily if it is acid reflux causing your ear pain then you can treat that the same way as you would treat acid reflux. I personally would recommend following the same advice I recommend for treating LPR because the same advice that is applied to help their symptoms will also be the perfect guidance to prevent your ears being damaged by acid reflux and to allow for healing.
First off, I would recommend you read this article on LPR diet which I would recommend you implement yourself alongside my complete acid reflux diet plan called the Wipeout Diet Plan. Also for more information on acid reflux and GERD check out my ultimate guide on acid reflux / GERD.
Secondly in terms of medicine I would recommend taking Gaviscon advance (UK version). In my article on Gaviscon advance you can read about why it is the most effective way to prevent acid reflux.
Ideally you want to only take the Gaviscon advance until things settle down, during that time you should be adjusting your diet to lower your acid intake with should stop your ears from becoming sore from acid damage ever again!