Have you heard of Silent Reflux / Laryngopharyngeal Reflux?

Laryngopharyngeal reflux or LPR, often referred to as Silent Reflux, is similar to acid reflux that results from the acidic stomach content backup or refluxing back into the esophagus. Although similar, the symptoms of LPR are often very different than typical symptoms of acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

With silent reflux, you may not have any of the common symptoms of GERD like heartburn which makes it often difficult to diagnose and often goes undiagnosed and untreated for a long period of time which is why it’s often referred to as silent reflux.

What are the typical symptoms of Silent Reflux?

LPR may present itself with heartburn or a bitter taste or burning sensation in the back of the throat, but you are less likely to show the common symptoms of acid reflux. More often than not, symptoms mimic other problems that make it more difficult to diagnose.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Continual throat clearing
  • Persistent cough without a cold
  • Hoarseness in the voice
  • A feeling of having a “lump” in your throat that seem doesn’t go away

Other possible symptoms include:

  • Excess post nasal drip
  • Continued trouble swallowing
  • Trouble breathing
  • Sore throats are common

Complications of Laryngopharyngeal Reflux

Stomach acids that invade the throat and larynx can cause long-term irritation and damage. Without treatment, it can be serious.

Silent reflux has the ability to scar the throat and vocal cords. It can also increase risk for esophageal cancer, affect the lungs, and may irritate conditions such as asthma, emphysema or bronchitis.

How can you diagnose Silent Reflux (LPR)?

Even though silent reflux is harder to get a firm diagnosis than Acid Reflux Disease, a Doctor can diagnose it through a combination of a medical history, a physical exam and a few other tests including an endoscopic exam and pH monitoring.

Common Treatments for Laryngopharyngeal (Silent Reflux)

Silent reflux treatment is similar to Acid Reflux treatment and should include these lifestyle modifications:

  • Losing weight if you are overweight
  • If you smoke – you need to quit
  • Avoid alcoholic drinks
  • Restrict diet from chocolate, mints, fats, citrus fruits, carbonated beverages, spicy or tomato-based products, red wine, and caffeinated drinks of any kind.
  • Do not eat 2-3 hours prior to going to sleep
  • Elevate the head of the bed – we, of course, believe Gravity1st™ is the best solution
  • Try to avoid tight fitting close – especially around the waist.
  • Chewing gum increases saliva and is a natural acid buffer.

You may also be prescribed one or more of the following types of medicines:

•    Proton pump inhibitors – often called PPI’s such as Aciphex, Dexilant, Kapidex, Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec, or Zegerid and are used to reduce stomach acid

•    H2 blockers (Axid, Pepcid, Tagamet, or Zantac) also used to reduce stomach acid

•    Prokinetic agents to increase the forward movement of the GI tract and increase the pressure of the lower esophageal sphincter. These medications are not as widely used because of side effects.

•   Antacids are often used for heartburn to help neutralize acid

Most people respond well to self-care and medical management. However, ignoring the symptoms and not seeking treatment is not a good idea. Left untreated there are serious side effects to LPR and GERD. Start immediately with lifestyle modifications and see your healthcare provider as soon as possible to get the proper diagnosis.