Heartburn or digestive discomfort are most often associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. The burning pain of acid indigestion can radiate from the stomach to the abdomen and chest, which may last for up to two hours after a meal.
In some cases, you may not experience this pain – another condition, known as laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR), might be causing more subtle but still uncomfortable symptoms closer to your throat. This is also called “silent reflux.”
What is ‘Silent Reflux’ or LPR?
The sphincter, a ring of muscle at each end of the esophagus, helps shut stomach contents out of the throat. When these muscles don’t work right, it leads to LPR that can cause inflammation in the back of the throat, voice box and even nasal passages.
Like GERD, LPR results from a dysfunction of stomach acid backing up into the throat. But unlike GERD, there may be no symptoms that relate to pain or discomfort in or around your stomach.
What Are the Symptoms of LPR?
Common symptoms of LPR include:
- Sore throat
- Chronic cough
- Excessive throat clearing
- Bitter taste or burning sensation in throat
- Feeling of a “lump” in the throat
How is LPR Diagnosed & Treated?
For an accurate diagnosis, an ear, nose and throat specialist will examine your throat, which includes looking at your nose and mouth with an otoscope. An endoscopy or laryngoscopy may also be necessary if LPR is suspected and there are no obvious signs of inflammation.
Like with GERD, over-the-counter antacids can help neutralize stomach acids and prevent symptoms from occurring. There are also several lifestyle changes one can make to prevent or reduce the symptoms of LPR.
Other effective ways to ease LPR include:
- Changing your eating habits to stick with smaller, more frequent meals, and avoid eating two to three hours before bedtime
- Quitting smoking if you smoke and asking your doctor if the medications you take might also be responsible for your symptoms
- If you are overweight, exercising to shed excess pounds
For more serious cases that do not respond to medical treatment, your provider may recommend surgery.
An Important Note About GERD Versus LPR
Contrary to any similar symptoms that may arise, GERD and LPR are not the same condition. Both may involve different types of acid reflux and feel entirely different.
That’s why it’s important to schedule an appointment with an ear, nose and throat expert. An otolaryngologist can make a proper diagnosis and recommend treatment to best address your individual needs. If you frequently experience the symptoms of LPR, you should see us at Eastern Shore ENT & Allergy.
Call Eastern Shore ENT & Allergy at (410) 742-1567 for more information or to schedule an appointment.