Often referred to as GERD, gastroesophageal reflux disease occurs when acid from the stomach backs up into the esophagus. A ring of muscles around the lower esophagus do not close properly, allowing acid and other contents from the digestive tract to flow up the esophagus. Patients usually experience a burning sensation known as heartburn, acid regurgitation, nausea, trouble swallowing, and/or hoarseness in the morning.
Although GERD cases are usually referred on to a gastroenterologist, otolaryngologist treat secondary problems related to reflux such as hoarseness, laryngeal nodules, croup, airway narrowing, swallowing difficulties, throat pain, and sinus infections. To determine the best treatment, a provider may use endoscopic testing, biopsy, x-ray, 24 hour pH probe with or without impedance testing, manometry, and or empty stomach testing.
When contents of the stomach and upper digestive tract reflux all the way up the esophagus, beyond the upper esophageal muscles into the throat and nasal airway, it is known as laryngopharyngeal reflux or LPR. A patient may complain about a bitter taste in their throat, a sensation of burning, or that something is stuck. LPR may cause difficulty breathing especially in infant. If you or your child experience difficulty swallowing or breathing proper treatment of LPR by and otolaryngologist is critical.