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Laryngopharyngeal Reflux: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Laryngopharyngeal reflux is a less well-known condition than gastroesophageal reflux, but it can be equally bothersome and harmful.

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This type of reflux affects more than just the stomach and esophagus, reaching the larynx and pharynx.

Here we will explore in detail its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and available treatment options.

What is Laryngopharyngeal Reflux?

Laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR) occurs when the contents of the stomach, including acids and enzymes, rise up into the larynx and pharynx.

Unlike the more common gastroesophageal reflux, LPR does not always present with symptoms of heartburn, which sometimes complicates its diagnosis.

Symptoms of Laryngopharyngeal Reflux

Common Symptoms

LPR symptoms can affect various bodily functions and are often chronic or recurring. They include:

  • Persistent hoarseness: Irritation and inflammation of the vocal cords due to acid.
  • Chronic cough: Especially noticeable in the morning or after meals.
  • Feeling of having a “lump” in the throat: Also known as globus pharyngeus.
  • Difficulty swallowing: Known as dysphagia.
  • Bad breath: Due to stomach acid and other contents entering the mouth.

Causes of Laryngopharyngeal Reflux

Risk Factors

Several factors can increase the risk of developing LPR, including:

  • Obesity: Increases abdominal pressure, making it easier for stomach contents to rise.
  • Diet: Spicy, acidic foods, and the consumption of caffeine and alcohol can exacerbate reflux.
  • Lifestyle: Stress and tobacco use are significant contributing factors.

Physiological Mechanisms Involved

LPR involves a malfunction of the esophageal sphincters, especially the upper esophageal sphincter, allowing stomach contents to escape upwards towards the throat and larynx.

Causas Del Reflujo Laringofaríngeo

Diagnosis of Laryngopharyngeal Reflux

Diagnostic Tools and Tests

Diagnosis of LPR may include:

  • Laryngoscopy: Allows the doctor to observe the throat and larynx for signs of irritation or damage.
  • Esophageal pH monitoring: Measures acidity in the esophagus to confirm the presence of reflux.
  • Impedance-pH study: Measures the movement of stomach contents upwards into the esophagus.

Available Treatments

Treatment for LPR generally combines lifestyle changes, diet, and medical options.

Lifestyle and Dietary Changes

  • Avoiding trigger foods: Such as citrus, spicy, and fatty foods.
  • Not eating before bedtime: Avoid eating at least three hours before lying down.
  • Raising the head of the bed: Helps prevent nighttime reflux.

Medical and Surgical Options

  • Medications: Proton pump inhibitors and antacids to reduce acidity.
  • Surgery: In severe cases, procedures such as Nissen fundoplication may be necessary.

Count on Dr. Lech to find an effective solution for Laryngopharyngeal Reflux.

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