What is LPR?
Laryngopharyngeal Reflux Disease (LPR), also known as “silent reflux,” is a condition in which stomach acid backs up into the throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx) or into the back of the nasal airways. This result is the inflammation of these areas which are not protected against gastric acid exposure.
Reflux sufferers often take non-prescription drugstore medications for acid reflux or to stop heartburn. However these are only meant to be taken as a temporary measure, not a permanent solution. When the issue becomes chronic, it’s time to see a doctor.
Also, today’s processed foods often contain acids that are used in preservatives. Over time, these acids can eat away at the esophagus, sometimes resulting in esophageal cancer. A screening known as Transnasal Esophagoscopy (TNE) is offered here at ENT Institute that can check for cancer and other esophagus-related disorders.
What are the symptoms of LPR?
Although LPR is similar to Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), many LPR sufferers do not experience classic GERD symptoms such as heartburn, a bitter taste or a burning sensation in the back of the throat. LPR symptoms tend to be vague, causing many to confuse them with other conditions. These include: excessive throat clearing, trouble swallowing, and sore throat. LPR, like GERD, may be caused by:
- Strenuous exercise
- Heavy lifting
How do you know if you have LPR?
At The Ear, Nose & Throat Institute in Atlanta, a qualified physician will perform one of the following tests to determine how much acid is in your airways:
- Transnasal esophagoscopy (TNE), or a through-the-nose examination of the esophagus. This is done by numbing one side of the nose and then sliding a small, soft, flexible tube through the nose, bypassing the throat area, and going straight into the opening of the esophagus behind the larynx (voice box).
- Restech Test, which involves the insertion of a small probe through your nose and into the back of your throat. The probe will not interfere with your ability to speak or swallow. It simply collects information about pH levels throughout the testing period (Typically 24-48 hours).
- Bravo Esophageal pH Test, which involves attaching a small capsule (about the size of a gel cap) to the wall of the esophagus during an upper endoscopy. The capsule measures pH levels in the esophagus and transmits readings by radio telecommunications to a receiver worn on your belt or waste band. (Typically 48 hours).
Your physician may also decide to perform an esophageal manometry, a test that gauges how well your esophagus works. An esophageal manometry measures the rhythmic muscle contractions (peristalsis) that occurs in your esophagus when you swallow. It also measures the coordination and force exerted by the muscles of your esophagus. This test involves the insertion of a thin, flexible tube (catheter) that contains sensors through your nose, down your esophagus, and into your stomach.
How do you treat LPR?
Lifestyle changes and/or medications to neutralize stomach acid are usually enough to allow patients to manage reflux disease. Your physician will discuss your options along with the results of your tests. In some patients, these changes are not enough. If this is the case for you, your physician may recommend other treatment options, including surgery. If your symptoms point to LPR, please contact the Atlanta Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR) & Silent Reflux Treatment Center at 770-740-1860 to schedule an exam if you are in the area, including Lawrenceville and Alpharetta.