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Laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR) is a condition in which stomach acid travels up the esophagus (the tube that travels from the mouth to the stomach) and reaches the throat. Unlike GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), which causes a burning sensation in the lower chest (heartburn), those who have LPR are less likely to experience heartburn and other similar symptoms. That is why LPR is often called the “silent reflux” because it can be difficult to diagnose. 

Symptoms

Symptoms of laryngopharyngeal reflux may include:

  • Hoarseness
  • Chronic cough
  • Noisy breathing or pauses in breathing (apnea)
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • A sensation of a lump in the throat
  • A sensation of postnasal drip or excess throat mucus

Causes

At both ends of the esophagus, there is a muscle called the sphincter. The lower esophageal sphincter is what controls the opening between the esophagus and the stomach. This muscle remains tightly closed except when swallowing food. When the sphincters fail to operate correctly, stomach acid can travel up into the esophagus resulting in laryngopharyngeal reflux.

Treatment

Laryngopharyngeal reflux treatment may include certain lifestyle modifications, such as:

  • Weight loss
  • Quit smoking
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Avoid eating at least three hours before going to bed
  • Elevate the head of the bed 

Some medications may also be helpful to relieve symptoms, including:

  • Proton pump inhibitors
  • H2 blockers
  • Prokinetic agents
  • Sucralfate

 Some foods can trigger laryngopharyngeal reflux. With allergy skin testing and/or blood testing, we can discover hidden triggers, confirm suspected triggers, and provide additional treatments, including immunotherapy if appropriate. Contact Northeast Allergy, Asthma & Immunology today to schedule your appointment if you suffer from these symptoms.

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