Laryngo-pharyngeal reflux (LPR), also known as silent GERD, occurs when acid reflux reaches the throat area and sometimes the back of the nasal airways. Patients with LPR often complain of sore throat, hoarse voice, throat clearing and dry cough, bitter or sour taste, difficulty swallowing, and a sensation of drainage from the back of the nose. Interestingly, most patients with LPR do not experience heartburn that is typically associated with GERD.
LPR or silent GERD is typically mistaken for other diseases like common cold, allergic rhinitis or sinusitis, laryngitis and sometimes asthma. Many patients with silent reflux go through life not feeling 100% right. A few weeks ago, Dr. Darido encountered a patient that has been diagnosed with asthma since the age of 15. He was recently treated with high dose steroids for 6 weeks for severe laryngitis. He has had a hoarse voice and recurrent nighttime cough for the past 30 years of his life. A throat examination by an ENT specialist showed an ulcer and inflammation in the voice box. All findings pointed to one cause: acid reflux. An upper endoscopy showed inflammation throughout the esophagus. After a complete evaluation, the patient underwent Nissen fundoplication surgery. For the first time in his life, he feels normal. The cough disappeared, and he can sleep at night without waking up every hour to clear his throat. He is off all medications he was taking for asthma and allergies. His voice has improved and his throat does not heart anymore.
Silent reflux is a precursor of esophageal cancer, the fastest growing cancer in America. It is crucial to recognize your symptoms and seek help from a qualified GERD expert. Any patient with silent LPR symptoms deserves an endoscopic evaluation of the larynx and esophagus. At Houston Heartburn and Reflux Center, we offer effective and minimally invasive solutions for silent reflux.