Laryngopharyngeal reflux disease or LPR is also called “silent reflux” because of the fact that it does not always pose outward symptoms. Still, there are a number of symptoms that can be associated with silent reflux or LPR. Below, we discuss 5 silent reflux symptoms as well as LPR treatment and diagnosis. 

What is LPR?

Laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR) is a category of reflux in which stomach acid travels up into the larynx (the voice box), throat, and nose. LPR is a condition that may develop with chronic heartburn and acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) as it is also caused by stomach acid that flowing back up into the throat through a weakening of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) muscle, which opens when you swallow to allow food to pass through to the stomach.  

Who can get LPR?  

While anyone can get LPR, it is more common in people who have certain dietary habits, are overweight, are overstressed, or consistently wear extremely tight clothing. Silent reflux is also more common in infants because their LES muscle is not fully developed yet and also because they spend a good amount of time lying on their backs, which can exacerbate reflux.

Symptoms of LPR

Silent reflux symptoms in adults differ from those found in people with GERD due to the fact that the stomach acid is affecting the larynx rather than the esophagus. LPR does not usually present with the more commonly recognized symptoms associated with acid reflux, such as heartburn. This makes diagnosing LPR more difficult because the symptoms can often present as something like a simple cough, and are often attributed to a different illness altogether. Other common symptoms include:

·       Excessive throat clearing

·       Persistent cough

·       Hoarseness

·       The feeling of a lump in the throat that doesn’t go away with repeated swallowing

·       Difficulty swallowing

Diagnosing Silent Reflux

The tests to diagnose silent reflux are similar to the ones used to diagnose GERD. LPR is suspected when a patient is found to have irritation of the vocal cords during an assessment of issues related to the throat. Tests used to diagnose Laryngopharyngeal reflux include: 

•            24 hour pH testing

•            Esophageal manometry

•            Barium esophagram

Silent reflux can be managed and treated in similar ways used to manage GERD. Certain lifestyle changes can be made to relieve these symptoms and some medications can be used to control stomach acid, however surgery may be necessary to control the reflux long term. Be sure to call a reflux specialist to determine which treatment option is right for you.