Acid reflux is the common term used to describe a medical condition that occurs when stomach acid backs up the esophagus. The top of the stomach has a ring of muscle whose job is to keep the contents of the stomach from coming back up the esophagus. When this muscle doesn’t function properly, it is known as Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease, or GERD.
While everyone experiences some acid reflux from time to time, ongoing symptoms are likely to be an indication of the disease.
Common symptoms of acid reflux include:
- Sour or bitter taste in the mouth
- Excessive burping
- Stomach pain
- Regurgitation of food or stomach acid
In many cases, GERD symptoms can be silent, with no pain until a problem arises. It is not unusual for someone without the above symptoms to experience a flair up severe enough to mimic the pain of a heart attach. GERD can also cause a dry cough and bad breath.
What is LPR?
Larynopharyngeal reflux, or LPR, happens when the contents of the stomach and upper digestive tract reflux up the esophagus and into the back of the throat or nasal airway. While many patients don’t experience traditional heartburn with LPR, they may experience a feeling of something being stuck in the throat, the need to clear the throat repeatedly, a sour or bitter taste in the mouth or a feeling of postnasal drip.
LPR can cause:
- Noisy breathing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Choking sensation when eating
- Sleep disordered breathing
- Sleep apnea
How to Prevent Acid Reflux
Acid reflux, GERD and LPR affects men, women and children. While many of the factors that lead to acid reflux are unavoidable, some lifestyle changes can cause or impact the severity of symptoms.
- Don’t eat or drink two hours before bed
- Avoid alcohol
- Eat smaller meals
- Eat slowly
- Avoid tight clothing
- Lose weight or become more active
- Quit smoking
- Limit problem foods, including high fat foods, spicy foods, tomatoes, citrus fruits, onions, mint, sodas and other caffeinated or carbonated drinks.
What can an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Specialist do for your Acid Reflux?
As most of the symptoms of acid reflux involve the throat area, an ENT specialist is very often are the first physician to diagnose and treat problems caused by acid reflux. Common problems resulting from GERD that Atlanta ENT physicians treat include:
- Laryngeal nodules in singers
- Airway Stenosis (narrowing)
- Swallowing difficulties
- Throat pain
- Sinus infections
- Ear infections
- Throat and laryngeal inflammation and lesions
- Changes in the throat lining that can lead to cancer