Laryngopharyngeal reflux affects many people each year, many of whom have no clue…so how do you know if you have it? LPR, as it’s also called, is often hard to spot because of its lack of present symptoms or symptoms that coincide with other diseases, such as GERD.
Laryngopharyngeal reflux is a condition in which acid from the stomach travels up the esophagus through a relaxed lower esophageal sphincter (LES) and into throat. The LES controls the opening between the esophagus and the stomach, which should remain closed tightly except when you’re swallowing food.
Symptoms are hard to notice, which is why many refer to LPR as “Silent Reflux”. Despite having the word reflux in the name, many cases of LPR don’t ever have heartburn. Most cases display symptoms that occur in the throat, such as sore throat and a swollen or irritated larynx, otherwise known as your voice box. Because of this, LPR can be especially difficult to diagnose.
Other symptoms include:
Sensation of a lump in the throat
The need to clear the throat
Red, swollen, or irritated larynx (voice box).
Causes of LPR
At either end of your esophagus is a ring of muscle that works to keep the contents of your stomach in your stomach. But with LPR, the sphincters don't work right. Stomach acid backs up into the back of your throat—called the pharynx—or into your voice box—called the larynx. Sometimes, stomach acid can even pass through into the back of your nasal airway. These areas aren’t equipped to have stomach acid pass through them, so inflammation is common.
Who gets laryngopharyngeal reflux?
Anyone can get LPR, but it becomes more prevalent in older people. Things that can increase your risk of developing LPR include:
Poor dietary habits
Wearing tight clothing regularly
Large amounts of stress
How is LPR Diagnosed and Treated?
If your doctor suspects you have LPR, he or she may order an x-ray test in which you would be asked to swallow a chalk-like material that will show up in x-rays. Once diagnosed, your doctor will likely begin your treatment with lifestyle changes used to alleviate the condition. Most of the time these can be enough. If you are experiencing reflux as a symptom, your doctor may prescribe medication or even surgery to rid you of your uncomfortable reflux.
As mentioned, LPR is hard to spot, so if you’re experiencing chronic or uncomfortable symptoms in the throat, call one of the specialists at the Tampa Bay Reflux Center today!