The throat is connected to the esophagus, which delivers food and fluids to the stomach. The esophagus contains two sphincters that open and close as you swallow foods, one at the top and bottom. These sphincters are muscles that open to allow food to go down into the esophagus and stomach, then close to keep the contents of the stomach out of the esophagus and throat. When these sphincters are not working correctly, it can result in gastroesophageal or laryngopharyngeal reflux, a throat condition we can diagnose and treat at Julie Zweig, MD Integrative Sleep & ENT.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, (acid reflux) is a common digestive disorder. When the bottom esophagus sphincter fails, the stomach acid can enter the esophagus, causing heartburn and esophagus damage. If the top sphincter in the esophagus fails, the stomach acid can continue to travel upward into the throat. This can cause a myriad of problems as the acid irritates and damages the throat, resulting in laryngopharyngeal reflux, or LPR.
If you have LPR, you also have GERD. GERD symptoms include frequent heartburn, sore throat, regurgitation and difficulty swallowing. When stomach acid is traveling into the throat, the symptoms can increase in the upper neck area. You may feel like you have a constant lump in your throat and you may experience wheezing or breathing issues. There is often a burning sensation in the throat, and you may often experience a bitter taste in your mouth.
GERD and LPR go hand-in-hand. Controlling GERD can help reduce LPR, but chronic LPR may need its own treatment. An ENT specialist can determine the best options for reducing symptoms of LPR and preventing damage to your throat tissues. Treatments can include medications, diet alterations and lifestyle changes. In severe cases, LPR may require surgery or other procedures.
If you have symptoms of LPR, it is important to seek medical attention. LPR can cause extensive damage to your throat and increase the risk of serious complications. To schedule a throat exam and LPR consultation, contact our team at Julie Zweig, MD Integrative Sleep & ENT. Call our facility in Alpharetta, GA, to schedule an appointment.