If you're having throat, breathing or voice problems you may have laryngopharyngeal reflux

So you've never heard of laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR)? Sometimes it is referred to as silent reflux. It’s a relatively unknown type of acid reflux. Before I explain what it is read the next two paragraphs.

The esophagus actually has two sphincters (rings of muscle that act like a valve to close off the tube of the esophagus) that are supposed to keep stomach juices where they belong. One is at the bottom of the esophagus and the other is near the top.

The one at the bottom is called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), this is the one that is written about the most when it comes to acid reflux or GERD. But there is also another sphincter, seldom referred to, at the top of the esophagus at its junction with the upper throat just behind the larynx (voice box).

So here is what (LPR) laryngopharyngeal reflux is: 

LPR occurs when reflux goes above the upper sphincter and into the throat. It usually occurs without heartburn, less than 15% of people with this problem have heartburn. The larynx, trachea, bronchi and lungs are much more susceptible to damage from the stomach juices than the esophagus.

The larynx and pharynx burn at a higher pH than the esophagus. The esophagus will burn at PH 4.0, while the larynx will burn at PH 5.0. What that means is it takes a less acidic solution to burn the larynx, trachea and air passages than it takes to burn the esophagus. The larynx is approximately 100 times more sensitive to peptic injury than the esophagus.

The esophagus is better able to handle the acid than the larynx and pharynx because it has built in protective mechanisms. It also means that it takes even smaller amounts of stomach juices to do the damage.

Digestive juices can get into the upper throat at night as with regular acid reflux or GERD, but more people with LPR have damage occur during the day than at night.

Here are some common symptoms of laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR): 

  • Asthma or asthma-like symptoms
  • Bad breath that won’t go away
  • Belching or burping
  • Blockage of the breathing passage
  • Chronic Cough
  • Chronic Throat Irritation (feeling like something is there)
  • Continual Throat Clearing
  • Cracking Voice
  • Difficulty singing or extended talking
  • Difficulty Swallowing
  • Dysphonia (changes with the voice)
  • Ear pain
  • Excessive Phlegm in Throat
  • Feeling of a lump or something stuck in the throat
  • Hoarseness
  • Laryngospasm (feeling like one can’t catch one’s breath)
  • Post nasal drip
  • Sore throat
  • Throat clearing
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Weak voice
  • Wheezing

Any of these symptoms could be signs of something more serious, so if you have these symptoms please see your doctor instead of treating yourself.

LPR can be a very serious thing. Anything that affects the air passages or the upper throat area is a problem you must get under control.

It takes lots of repeated refluxes to damage the esophagus but a lot fewer refluxes into the upper throat area to damage things up there.

Here is a page with very good info on laryngopharyngeal reflux. It's more technical and there are some great images of the upper GI Tract, throat, pharnyx and lung relationships.

There is a 24 hour PH test you can get done. One sensor is placed at the bottom of the esophagus and another at the top. This will let the doctor see if acid is moving from the bottom of the esophagus to the top.

LPR or silent reflux is what I had. The lump in the throat, hoarseness, throat clearing and feeling like I couldn't get enough air into my lungs were things I experienced everyday. I no longer have any of these symptoms!

Stop Treating Symptoms

I got rid of it by working with nature and my own body, not by taking pills. You simply cannot get to the root cause of this problem by just taking pills! The pills are basically treating the symptoms of the problem, not the problem itself. The pills are also only supposed to be for short term use, 6 to 8 weeks usually. Generally, doctors treat laryngopharyngeal reflux the same as acid reflux.

Are you ready to help yourself? I can help you do that! First check out the treatments page, then follow the link at the end of that page.

Follow the link to go to the treatments page of this site, leave the laryngopharyngeal reflux page.