Good To Nose Baraka Blog

An Acidic Stomach and a Stuffy Nose

Written By: Sue
March 13, 2012


It’s hard to imagine that an acidic stomach and a stuffy nose could be related. After all, your stomach is the midway point of your body and digests food, while your nose is located in your head where it draws in oxygen and enhances the taste of that food. To make things more confusing, if you were to have a problem with either of these organs you’d most likely see a specialist, and often times these specialists don’t make the link between your stomach and your nose.

A stuffy nose, sinusitis, nasal congestion and a number of other problems can be due to a condition called GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease- a more severe form of acid reflex). GERD occurs when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus. You may think that’s a long way for stomach acid to travel but if we look at our anatomy it makes sense. The nose drains into the throat and esophagus; the esophagus drains into the stomach connected only by a valve. That’s it. There are no other filters or buffers along the way. If that valve doesn’t work properly, acid can back up into the esophagus and then to the nose. In other words, heartburn is stomach acid making its way into your esophagus; that same stomach acid can travel all the way to your nose and cause inflammation. In an attempt to rid your nose of this harsh acid (in other words, to wash it away), it produces more mucous and thus a stuffy nose.

Not everyone with GERD gets sinus problems, but if you frequently have an acid stomach AND a stuffy nose, you may want to discuss this with your health practitioner or do more investigating for yourself. Other symptoms of GERD include: difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, lump-in-the-throat sensation, chronic cough and throat clearing, and mucous build-up in the throat. People can suffer from one or more of these symptoms.

What are the solutions? In most cases, GERD can be reduced or eliminated by altering your diet. The idea is to eat foods that don’t increase stomach acid. Acid inducing foods include:

  • alcohol
  • coffee/black teas
  • sodas
  • fried foods
  • spicy foods
  • dairy

If the thought of permanently eliminating these foods is more than you can handle, consider this: once you eliminate them and your digestive tract has healed, you may be able to reintroduce these foods into your diet.  There are plenty of books out there that give suggestions on how to make delicious, tasty meals while eating a low acid diet. Dropping Acid: The Reflex Diet Cookbook & Cure by Dr. Koufman is a popular book on the subject. Other books on the subject are Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford or Donna Gates’ Body Ecology Diet. If you search these books into Amazon, they’ll give you other suggestions on books that are similar. Or ask your local health foods or herbal store for other good ideas!

As a culture, we can no longer deny that our food choices have consequences on our bodies. GERD is your body’s internal alarm system telling you something is out of balance. Don’t ignore it.

28 Responses to “An Acidic Stomach and a Stuffy Nose”

  1. M Keohane
    11. October 2013 um 16:30

    I absolutely have this issue, and have been trying to strike the right diet balance, but it hasn’t happened yet.
    The nose issue blocks air, and I have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, but no real physical obstruction was present. Use of a nasal decongestant helps, but I hesitate to make it a habit.
    Thank-you for your post – it’s validation.

  2. Chris
    25. January 2014 um 09:20

    Would a food to congestion diary be a wise thing to see if a link can be tied down?

  3. Stephani
    12. February 2014 um 18:35

    Yes, for some people dairy can cause excess congestion. See your doctor to figure out if this is the case for you.

  4. mike
    12. May 2014 um 05:28

    I have this condition also and it is reaffirming to hear that other people suffer, I find it hard to give up my tea with one sweetener and honey, I try to keep it weak(earl grey) and I’ve gone on low salt, I find not using even this salt hard as I was such a salt addict in the past, is this salt bad for gerd?

  5. Stephani
    12. May 2014 um 21:36

    Hello Mike- Some research I have found suggest that a little salt is good for a GERD diet. Some people that suffer with GERD also have low levels of iodine which can contribute to hypothyroidism. So eating with a iodized salt is recommend. Our salt is not iodized. I would suggest speak to your Dr and doing some additional research to find out how much salt is right for you– as we are all different.

  6. Scott
    22. May 2014 um 17:28

    I’ve had this problem. Didn’t go to the doctor until stress triggered the pain from acid reflux. Diet is a part of it. For me, I’ve been trying to figure out what the congestion has been for a while. Stress triggers it to become worse. Also, it didn’t really start until I gained weight. Gaining weight adds to the risk of this because it pushes the stomach up. Now that I’m losing the weight I’ve noticed the symptoms decreasing.
    Two other things to consider. First, some independent studies say that GMO foods have added to the prevalence of GI issues. Second, taking the drugs some doctors will prescribe for this, especially long term, can cause you to develop other ailments, so it’s better to try to tackle it naturally.

  7. Gerd Causes In Men | My life with acid reflux
    9. June 2014 um 02:52

    […] Vital of the Body Gerd Causes In Men (Azme-e-Hali): Take juice of orange (Malta) add half-teaspoon kalonji oil use this mixture twice a day (in the morning before the breakfast and in the South 120th Street, Arts & Crafts Booth […]

  8. Alex Choy
    9. June 2014 um 09:01

    I’ve had this same problem once before. After taking medicine prescribe by doctors it went off for a couple
    of years or so. Lately, the problem is back again. At times it gets worst when phlegm gets stuck in between the throat and nose.It’s so irritating that it disturb sleep.
    the doctor prescribe xanax to help me relax before sleep. I also noticed the problem is not so severe if you do not consume any food at least 4 to 5 hours before sleep.

  9. Ellen
    21. March 2015 um 11:05

    I am a lifetime sufferer of sinusitis. I have had multiple sinus infections as well as a chronic sinus infection.

    At the age of 45, I was finally diagnosed with a hiatal hernia, GERD and allergy to nearly all food. The big food allergies for me is wheat, gluten, dairy, casein, soy, propylene glycol, chemical sulfites, chemical nitrates and nitrites, and dyes.

    My nasal passages were swollen for years. When I eliminated the wheat, gluten, beans,soy,dairy,casein,chemical sulfites,chemical nitrites and nitrates my heartburn symptoms and the swelling in my nasal passages improved greatly.

    Unfortunately living in a moldy and humid apartment has caused severe sinus problems. I discovered and started using the neti pot with oil infused sea salt and the sinus problem goes away with continued use of that particular sea salt. Whenever I feel better and stop using the neti pot, my sinus problems come back. Now I just have to find a healthier place to live. I will be using the oil infused sea salt forever.

  10. Ravi
    22. April 2015 um 18:22

    Hi Alex,

    Did you get any relief, ” At times it gets worst when phlegm gets stuck in between the throat and nose.It’s so irritating that it disturb sleep.”,

    Kindly drop mail to

  11. Deborah Edgerton
    10. December 2015 um 18:40

    I too suffer with chronic sinus problems and Gerd for 4 years now. At first, I couldn’t connect the two, but now I’m relieved to know there are others that suffer with this problem. My doctor still has not connected the two triggers. I also have hot flashes that triggers the problem.

  12. Rabi joshi
    20. March 2016 um 05:57

    Sir my name is ravijoshi from 10year i have a gas problem. I show to doctor it help but after few day again same problem. Having gas in my stomatch and some time gas will so havey that it take troble to me having sifting pain in chest. And block my nose also. I have one more problem that my constupation not clear

  13. Julie
    20. July 2016 um 08:32

    I have been on medication for GERD for decades and got off this yr because of the long term consequences. I have had sinusitis since my teens and the GERD medication did nothing to decrease it. A few yrs ago I started realizing the affect of my diet on my whole body. I stay away from high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, soda, gluten, dairy, eggs, night shade produce (this is one of the worse for me)caffeine, soy, all GMOs and non-organics. I know any refined sugar is a problem too and am seeing what eliminating all types of nuts do also.

  14. Arnold
    14. December 2016 um 13:12

    I have this too and it took me ages to realize it.

  15. Lalbsa
    20. January 2017 um 16:48

    I’m also suffering from sinusitis(blocked nose) and GERD. When it worsen i fell like I’m gonna slowly die.. Disturb sleep badly where due to it started having panic attack. But relief to know there are others like me.

  16. Wilma
    24. March 2017 um 13:25

    Will it help to sleep in a semi sit up position to prevent acid to go to the throat and nasal passages??

  17. Stephani
    27. March 2017 um 20:16

    Yes! Here’s a great link discussing GERD and sleeping positions.

  18. Colin
    4. April 2017 um 03:25

    I have a chronic nasal obstruction. Sleep apnoea and had a heart attack 1 year ago. After bad sinus surgery that would not heal for a year. Yes a whole year. I just found out I have a hiatus hernia. I am now on pantoprazole nexium and don’t eat 4 hours before bed. I also take an eno antacid drink before bed. The change is a miracle after 10 years of absolute hell. I hope this helps someone

  19. Deb
    26. June 2017 um 18:59

    I have such bad congestion — stuffy nose, so hard to breathe! Worse at night. I am thin, exercise, don’t smoke or drink alcohol. But, I was eating tomatoes, onion, garlic, peppers with meals, and eating too close to bedtime. Also was drinking some coffee and black tea w/creme. I’ve stopped all this, elevated sleeping position, and have had a few nights of relief if using my nasal wash b4 bed. It’s VERY frustrating. Today, I’ve had one green tea, banana, ginger, almond milk, and oatmeal — all supposed to be GREAT choices! But, I’m so stuffy I can’t think! If you’ve felt like this you know what it’s like. Agree w/other person about decongestants — they help but I don’t like taking these too often.

  20. Jim
    27. July 2017 um 19:28

    I thought I was the only person in the world with this. I’m fine up to about 5-00 PM and then it starts. My nose and sinuses get so dry at night. I find chewing gum can help. During the day I feel fine. I’ve lost 2.5 stone and exercise every day, just hoping it eventually benefits me. Doctor has me on a steroid spray at the moment, when I suggested the problem my be due to aspirated acidic gas from the stomach she looked at me like i’d got two heads.

  21. vinvin wuwu
    7. September 2017 um 02:25

    1. an apple a day really goes a long way for GERD – this helps your stomach lining and digestion

    2. Ashwanga and Fenugreek works wonder for your stomach

    3. Exercise in the morning to sweat out toxins.

    living with GERD is not easy but you will get by fine if you keep your body in check.

  22. Ranjan G P
    10. October 2017 um 06:27

    Sir,I am suffering from both sinus and gastric problem and after a month I face a problem of constipation due to gastric problem please help me in diet to be followed

  23. Stephani
    26. October 2017 um 22:58

    I’m sorry to hear of your troubles. I’m unable to help you, but I would encourage you to seek a second opinion as well as a dietitian. Best of luck.

  24. kai
    24. October 2017 um 23:50

    I have a problem, an embarrassing one. ruining my life. I have a nasty smell coming out of my nose. i have done endoscopy and the Dr told me i have too much gas in me. but he doesnt know whats going on. i am so tired, done several test. pls help me

  25. Stephani
    26. October 2017 um 22:58

    Hello Kai, I’m sorry to hear of your troubles. I’m unable to help you, but I would encourage you to seek a second opinion as well as a dietitian. Best of luck.

  26. Corinne
    5. December 2017 um 11:32

    I’ve had constant sinus infections over the last four years. Coinciding with me starting to drink coffee. I only in the last 24 hours (whilst I’m on my 4th course of antibiotics in five weeks) that perhaps I have figured out the link between my old diagnoses of gastric reflux. I was supposed to take somac daily but never did as I don’t get heartburn.

    Last night I went to bed after eating red onion and tomatoes and found myself awake at night with sinus pain on one side of my face, feeling sick to my stomach with a burning sore throat. I think I’ve finally figured out this must be stomach acid. As soon as this happens (sinus infections always start with sick stomach feeling and sore throats) I then get yellow mucous that turns to green as it has today. At a bit of a loss as I’m already on antibiotics but it seems to have triggered the infection again

    Help me!

  27. Chris
    13. January 2018 um 16:47

    I too have a smell in my nose that I can’t figure where it’s coming from. It started about 2 years ago when I was receiving xolair injections. I asked my dr if there was any connection and he said absolutely not. This smell never changes. Any suggestions?

  28. Stephani
    16. January 2018 um 23:55

    I would ask for a second opinion!

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