Experiencing acid reflux on a chronic basis means you may have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). However, some people with chronic reflux have a condition called laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR). Let’s examine the similarities and differences between the two conditions as well as what you can do to manage your symptoms.
What Causes Acid Reflux?
In both GERD and LPR, your esophagus not closing correctly allows stomach acid to travel upwards. In GERD, stomach acid travels to your esophagus, which causes a burning sensation in the chest. In LPR, stomach acid travels toward the back of the throat. This can lead to experiencing different symptoms.
Symptoms of GERD vs LPR
The classic sign of GERD is a burning sensation in your chest (heartburn) that can last up to several hours. Other symptoms may include:
- Chest pain that worsens when lying down or bending over
- Burning sensation in your throat
- Trouble swallowing
- Bad taste in your mouth and/or the back of your throat
On the other hand, patients with LPR rarely experience heartburn and instead feel most of their symptoms in the neck and throat, leading the condition to be referred to as silent reflux. Common symptoms of LPR include:
- Chronic cough
- Sore throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Postnasal drip
How To Treat Chronic Acid Reflux
If you are experiencing symptoms of either GERD or LPR, make an appointment with your medical provider. Left untreated, acid reflux can lead to more serious health problems and potentially increase your risk for certain types of cancer.
Since both conditions are caused by the same problem, treatment for either is the same. It’s also possible for individuals to suffer from both GERD and LPR. Common treatments include:
- Dietary changes. Certain foods can trigger GERD and LPR symptoms. Your doctor may recommend that you remove foods that are high in fat, as well as fried and spicy foods from your diet to see if that improves your symptoms.
- Other lifestyle adjustments. Cutting back on caffeine and alcohol, getting regular exercise, eating smaller meals and sleeping with the head of your bed elevated all may help reduce reflux.
- Medications. Whether OTC or prescription strength, your doctor may recommend antacids, H2 receptor blockers or proton pump inhibitors to manage symptoms.
- Surgery. In cases where medication does not improve symptoms, surgery may be recommended to strengthen your esophageal sphincter and prevent reflux.
For additional information or to schedule an appointment with one of our experts, contact Spartanburg | Greer ENT & Allergy today.