Most people associate “reflux” with heartburn symptoms. However, a significant portion of people afflicted with gastroesophageal reflux don’t have any of these symptoms. Instead, these people suffer from “silent reflux,” otherwise known as laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR). The etiology is the same, but the symptoms can be entirely different. Both types of reflux occur when there is a backflow of stomach contents going up towards your mouth. The stomach acid irritates the lining of the throat and causes symptoms.
Surveys suggest that over 60 million adults suffer from GERD. This is likely an underestimate, however, as many people suffer from silent reflux and do not associate their symptoms with heartburn. Often, LPR can be overlooked or misdiagnosed. As otolaryngologists, we are experts in this topic. In fact, up to 10% of an ENT’s practice can be comprised of patients suffering from LPR.
The most common symptoms associated with LPR include globus sensation (or a “lump in the throat”), chronic cough, throat clearing, excessive throat mucus, sore throat, and hoarseness. Often, these symptoms will be worse in the morning or after a big meal.
Treatment involves a combination of dietary and behavioral modifications, and medical therapy. LPR can be difficult to treat, and may take weeks to months before you notice any changes. Other, more serious, conditions may mimic the symptoms of LPR, so it’s important to be evaluated by an expert if you experience any of these. Call us today to schedule an appointment to see if LPR may be causing some of your symptoms.