Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR)

When left untreated, laryngopharyngeal or gastroesophageal reflux can cause damage to your throat, esophagus or voice box. Read on to learn about the common symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of LPR. 

There are two sphincter muscles located in your esophagus, which close the esophagus at its upper and lower portions. 

If both the upper and lower esophageal sphincters don’t function properly, the acid that backflows into the esophagus penetrating the throat and voice box. This is called Laryngopharyngeal Reflux or LPR. 

When only the lower esophageal sphincter is not functioning properly, there is a backflow of stomach acid into the esophagus, called Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD.

You can suffer from LPR without experiencing any heartburn or GERD symptoms. 

Symptoms of Laryngopharyngeal Reflux:

  • Continual throat clearing
  • Chronic throat irritation or sore throat
  • Chronic cough
  • Hoarseness / Dysphonia
  • Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)
  • Sensation of something in the throat
  • Regurgitation 
  • Difficulty breathing/Wheezing
  • Heartburn

Diagnosis of LPR

To diagnose LPR, your ENT specialist takes a history of your symptoms and performs a complete physical examination. 

Sometimes, additional tests are needed, such as:

Treatment Options for LPR

Treatment protocols for both LPR and GERD are the same.

  • Lifestyle Changes
    • No eating 3 hours before bedtime
    • Elevating the head of the bed
    • Drinking more water
  • Diet modifications
    • Avoiding caffeine, high-fat foods, alcohol, milk products, and mint
  • Medications
    • Proton Pump Inhibitors, Histamine Receptor Antagonists, and over-the-counter remedies
  • Surgery
    • To tighten the junction between the stomach and esophagus