Acid Reflux in the Throat

Acid Reflux in the Throat

What is Acid Reflux?

Reflux is short for Laryngopharyngeal Reflux, also abbreviated as LPR. It refers to the backward flow of acid and digestive enzymes from the stomach up through the oesophagus and into the throat at the level of the vocal folds. Most people experience acid reflux at some stage in their lifetime.

What are the symptoms of acid reflux?

The voice box lining is extremely sensitive to stomach contents. Acid reflux causes redness and swelling of the larynx. This creates a sensation of irritation or mucus in the throat which people may mistake for post-nasal drip. Coughing and chronic throat clearing also commonly occur. Less commonly people may experience pain or difficulty swallowing

Many people with LPR do not experience the classic symptoms associated with GORD including heartburn, chest pain or an acidic taste in the mouth. In fact 50% of people with LPR have no other symptom except irritation in the throat and/or cough. Often these symptoms are worse during the day (when upright) and after certain foods (see below) which may trigger an acid reflux episode.

How is acid reflux treated?

Acid Reflux symptoms can usually be controlled by a combination of dietary and lifestyle modifications in conjunction with medications.

Dietary modification

Certain foods are known to predispose to acid reflux. They do so by increasing acid production in the stomach or relaxing the valve between the oesophagus and the stomach which normally acts as a barrier to reflux.

Acid reflux – Lifestyle modification

Lifestyle modifications are also recommended. These may include changing the frequency or timing of meals or modifying sleeping conditions. Please consult your ENT surgeon for more advice

Acid reflux – Medical Treatment

There are a number of medications available to treat acid reflux. Some of them switch off acid production in the stomach whilst others provide a barrier or buffer against acid damage. Often it takes some weeks before the symptoms respond to treatment. Your ENT doctor will be able to give you further advice regarding appropriate medical therapy for acid reflux.

Acid reflux – Surgical Treatment

On rare occasions, in the presence of severe non-responsive acid reflux, surgery may be considered to tighten the valve between the stomach and the oesophagus.