Acid reflux is a condition that affects millions of people. It can be caused by many different things, including acid in the stomach getting into the gullet (oesophagus) or throat. The pain and discomfort acid reflux causes are very unpleasant, but with proper treatment, it can be easily managed. In this blog post, we will discuss the causes of laryngopharyngeal (throat) reflux (abbreviated LPR) and how to treat or prevent it so you can live your life without worry. Gastro-oesophagal reflux disease (GERD) is not quite the same thing as LPR. LPR is sometimes referred to as ‘silent reflux’ because many people do not experience any of the classic symptoms of heartburn or indigestion.
What is and what causes acid reflux?
LPR is a common condition where stomach acid travels up into your throat (i.e. into the larynx and pharynx) and hence the name. Most people will experience acid reflux in the throat at some point in their lives.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a different condition where acid reflux occurs in just the oesophagus. This can lead to irritation of the oesophagus, as well as chest pain and heartburn.
Signs that you might have LPR
Common symptoms of LPR include:
- Sore throat
- Mild hoarseness or a problem with your voice
- Sensations of a lump in the throat
- The constant need to clear your throat
- The sensation of mucus sticking in the throat, and/or post-nasal drip
- Chronic (long-term) cough OR a troublesome/annoying cough
- Difficulty swallowing food, pills or liquids
- Breathing difficulties or choking episodes
- Heartburn, chest pain, indigestion, or stomach acid coming up
IT IS IMPORTANT NOT TO SELF DIAGNOSE ON THE BASIS OF ANY OF THESE SYMPTOMS WHICH MAY BE CAUSED BY CONDITIONS OTHER THAN LPR. ALWAYS SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION IF YOU ARE CONCERNED ABOUT ANY OF THESE SYMPTOMS.
Experiencing a chronic cough, hoarseness, or disrupted sleep? These can all indicate nighttime acid reflux. If left untreated for long enough, it could cause chronic coughs that will worsen asthma as well as disrupted sleep patterns due to frequent coughing during the nighttime hours.
How to treat and prevent LPR
Most people who experience LPR will respond well to lifestyle change to control their symptoms. A few people require medication e.g. non-prescription antacids/alginate preparations (e.g. Gaviscon Advance). These work by forming protection over the throat so that if anything spills over the throat is less damaging. Other people require proton pump inhibitors (e.g. omeprazole, lansoprazole, esomeprazole) used twice a day about 30 minutes to an hour before meals.
A small minority of patients do not respond to a lifestyle change or medication and require surgery for laryngopharyngeal reflux to tighten the sphincter between the stomach and the oesophagus. It is important to emphasise that the vast majority of people can control their symptoms by lifestyle change and do not need any medication or surgery. d do not need surgery. For infrequent acid reflux, a simple over the counter anti-acid medication will work very well.
If you are troubled by frequent LPR symptoms you should consult your GP who will decide if seeing an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist is appropriate.
For further information on what causes laryngopharyngeal reflux, please contact Mr Olarinde’s private practice manager, Haidee Carpenter or Hayley Masters, on 0114 321 6522 (8 am to 6 pm Mon-Fri), or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.