Acid Reflux & Reflux Treatment
MeLaryngopharyngeal Reflux & Treatment
Laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR) contributes to hoarseness in up to 55% of people with dysphonia (abnormal voice). It can often be difficult to diagnose and is sometimes overlooked when patients do not complain of typical gastroesophageal symptoms such as a burning feeling in the chest that occurs after eating or when lying down at night. If left untreated, it can significantly disrupt one's life and even lead to the development of throat cancer.
Do not let LPR disrupt your life, let an LPR specialist in Atlanta give you your voice back.
What is Laryngopharyngeal Reflux?
Laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR) is the backflow of stomach acid up the esophagus into the throat affecting the larynx (voice box). The tissues in the voice box and throat become irritated by stomach acid and other enzymes, such as pepsin. This results in inflammation and swelling which causes the symptoms associated with LPR. If not managed correctly, LPR is associated with chronic complications and an increased risk of throat cancer.
Symptoms of Laryngopharyngeal Reflux
In patients with LPR, the most common symptom is hoarseness. Other symptoms that are commonly seen in LPR include:
- Frequent throat clearing
- The feeling of mucus draining into the throat (postnasal drip)
- Difficulty swallowing or the sensation of a lump in the throat
- Coughing after lying down or eating
- Difficulty breathing or frequent choking episodes
- Frequent sore throats
- Chronic cough
- Heartburn or Indigestion
Many of these symptoms are overlooked by other doctors, whereas an LPR specialist in Atlanta can identify even subtle signs of LPR.
Causes of Laryngopharyngeal Reflux
Abnormal functioning of the upper esophagus sphincter, a muscle preventing contents of the esophagus and stomach from reaching the throat, causes LPR. Typically this muscle remains tightly closed except to let swallowed food through, but in LPR, it loosely closes, allowing stomach acid to reflux.
Eating large meals before bed, diets high in acidic or fatty foods, caffeine, and alcohol are risk factors for developing LPR. Smoking and being overweight increases the risk of developing LPR.
Diagnosing Laryngopharyngeal Reflux
An acid reflux specialist in Atlanta uses two different tests to diagnose LPR. The first test is called a laryngoscopy.
During a laryngoscopy, a view of the larynx (voice box) and other throat anatomy is obtained using a small camera (endoscope). This procedure allows LPR specialists to identify inflammation and swelling caused by the refluxed stomach acid
The second test used is a pH monitor. A small pH monitor is inserted through the nose and records the pH at the top and bottom of the esophagus and the throat for 24 hours. A lower-than-normal pH indicates LPR is occurring.
Sometimes these tests are unnecessary. See an LPR specialist in Atlanta to determine if one of these procedures can help.
Treatment of Laryngopharyngeal Reflux
Initial treatment of LPR aims to decrease activities that increase acid reflux into the esophagus. Eating smaller, more frequent meals that contain limited amounts of fatty and spicy foods. Avoiding food less than two hours before bed can reduce acid reflux. Reducing the amount of alcohol and caffeine consumed during the day reduces symptoms of LPR.
For individuals that may be overweight, losing weight can make a big difference in symptoms. Quitting smoking can dramatically improve symptoms as tobacco smoke can have direct effects on the larynx, as well as increasing the reflux of acid.
In addition to lifestyle changes, medications to reduce acid production from the stomach are the recommended treatment. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are the most commonly prescribed medication for LPR. A trial using a PPI should be tried to give the voice box and throat a chance to heal. This healing process can take up to six months or more.
Severe cases of LPR that do not respond to medical therapy are treated with a surgical procedure to prevent acid from refluxing into the esophagus. See an LPR doctor in Atlanta to determine if surgery is needed.
Complications of Untreated Laryngopharyngeal Reflux
If not treated, LPR can cause ulcers (sores) and granulomas (nodules) to form on the vocal cords. LPR can also worsen the symptoms of asthma, COPD, and bronchitis. Chronic exposure to acid can damage the throat and voice box and cause scarring, narrowing this area. In addition, chronic irritation can lead to the formation of cancer.
If you experience any symptoms related to LPR, such as frequent hoarseness, sore throat, excess mucus production, or feelings of something stuck in the throat, see an LPR specialist in Atlanta to help prevent the development of complications.
Don’t Suffer From Laryngopharyngeal Reflux
LPR can have significant impacts on your quality of life. If you have symptoms or have been diagnosed with LPR, avoiding fatty and spicy foods, alcohol, and tobacco can be a good start to improving your symptoms. Medications are often needed and in rare cases, surgery is needed. Act now to take back your life and voice.
Call our LPR specialist in Atlanta for a consultation and get relief today! Dr. Aaron Fletcher is a board-certified ear, nose, and throat doctor specializing in LPR treatment.
To schedule an appointment, call our office at 678-902-9495.
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