Silent Reflux

When I say “acid reflux,” most of you think “heartburn,” and this is often true of GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease). However, acid reflux can also refer to LPR (Laryngopharyngeal Reflux), and less than half of individuals with LPR experience heartburn.

So what’s the difference between GERD and LPR? GERD is the more conventional, well-known form of acid reflux, typically causing heartburn and damaging the tissues lining the esophagus. LPR, however, is becoming increasingly prevalent and is known as “silent reflux” because most people who have LPR are unaware of it. Why? Because LPR typically presents different symptoms than what we think of as “acid reflux” symptoms. Individuals with LPR typically have issues with their voice—chronic coughing and throat clearing, a hoarse voice, sore throat, and chronic postnasal drip.

Unfortunately, these symptoms are usually not severe enough to cause individuals to mention it to their doctor and seek out a diagnosis and treatment plan. Individuals with undiagnosed LPR simply become accustomed to constant throat-clearing and chronic postnasal drip. However, this is not ok! Permanent damage is being done to their esophagus, larynx and pharynx—very delicate and important tissues in the body. If untreated, LPR will leave permanent tissue damage, and may even lead to throat cancer.

Perhaps this article has just made the connection for you. You’ve been dealing with chronic postnasal drip, coughing, and throat-clearing for a long time now, and you’re ready to find out what’s causing it. Well go to your doctor and find out!

In the meanwhile, I have some suggestions for you:

–          Buy a foam wedge for the head of your bed so you sleep on an incline, keeping the digestive juices down in your stomach, where they belong, while you sleep.

–          Eat smaller meals, more frequently throughout the day—avoid big meals!

–          Eat your last meal at least 3 hours before going to bed or otherwise lying down.

–          Avoid eating or drinking excessively before exercising

–          Avoid eating exacerbating food and drink such as tomato products, fruit juice, soda, and alcohol.

–          Eat fewer pre-packaged foods, which have high levels of acidic preservatives.

And now I’ve contributed to Gastrointestinal Health month. Go treat your throat right!

By: Katie Olson

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