Acid Reflux Throat Surgery at NYU Langone

acid reflux throat

Acid Reflux symptoms typically include heartburn and regurgitation – when food or liquid comes back up into your throat and mouth often with an unpleasant bitter taste.

But some people can have GERD without ever experiencing heartburn; their symptoms may include chest pain, hoarseness, difficulty swallowing and even a dry cough.

Causes

When stomach acid backflows into the throat, it can irritate its lining causing gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. This often happens after eating a large meal while lying down, and certain anatomic conditions, like hiatal hernias, can predispose people to acid reflux. GERD symptoms include heartburn, regurgitation, and bitter or sour tastes in the throat as well as frequent coughing episodes caused by long-term exposure – long-term acid reflux can even damage vocal cords causing laryngitis – therefore treatment must be undertaken quickly in order to avoid complications, such as cancer of the esophageal cancer of course!

Heartburn is the hallmark symptom of acid reflux, occurring when the stomach and esophagus become inflamed due to acid escaping through its openings into the throat and mouth. Other common signs include mouth sores or bitter tastes in your mouth, throat irritation, nausea or vomiting and difficulty swallowing. If this occurs to you, try drinking milk or low-sodium alternatives as an attempt at neutralizing acid. Also try limiting foods and beverages that could trigger acid reflux, like spicy meals, alcohol, and caffeine consumption as these could all aggravate symptoms further.

GERD can lead to other serious health complications, including changes in the lower esophagus (esophagitis) that can become infected and lead to open sores (ulcers). Chronic acid reflux can also narrow food pathways within the throat (esophageal stricture) or form precancerous cells within it (Barrett’s esophagus).

Sore throats may result when stomach acids reach the pharynx at the back of the throat and irritate its lining, known as silent reflux or laryngopharyngeal reflux. Atypical reflux has similar symptoms to GERD but without heartburn; symptoms include sore throats, feeling that something is stuck in the throat, frequent throat-clearing sessions, persistent coughing episodes, and difficulty swallowing.

If your throat is affected by acid, OTC or prescription medications can help soothe any discomfort caused. Furthermore, lifestyle modifications may help reduce or prevent acid reflux altogether – for example by losing weight and avoiding foods and drinks likely to trigger episodes.

Symptoms

Food travels down your esophagus from your mouth into your stomach via the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). When the LES opens to allow food through, if it doesn’t close back up tight it can allow acid back up from the stomach into your throat (called the pharynx or larynx ) causing heartburn symptoms including sore throat, hoarseness, hoarseness, and difficulty swallowing.

Individuals experiencing frequent acid reflux could develop gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This condition causes irritation to the esophagus’s lining, known as esophagitis; which increases the risk for cancer of the esophagus. It’s more serious than simple acid reflux.

Over time, persistent episodes of reflux can also alter the cells lining your throat, leading to Barrett’s Esophagus and increasing your risk for Esophageal Cancer.

If you experience acid reflux symptoms more often than once every week, it’s wise to visit your healthcare provider. They may recommend over-the-counter or prescription medication designed to neutralize or reduce stomach acids such as H2 blockers or antacids to alleviate your symptoms.

Your healthcare provider will discuss your diet and other potential causes that could be contributing to or exacerbating acid reflux symptoms. They may advise a low-fat, high-fiber diet and suggest limiting how much fatty food you eat at one sitting; as well as steering clear from trigger foods like fried food, gravies, salad dressings, full-fat meats and full-fat dairy products that could exacerbate acid reflux symptoms. It might also be recommended that you sit up or stand for 45-60 minutes after meals/feedings rather than lying down immediately afterwards.

Your healthcare provider may perform an upper GI tract endoscopy and biopsy to assess the linings of your esophagus, stomach and duodenum. The test involves inserting an endoscope (long tube with camera) through your mouth into your stomach before extracting tissue samples for testing.

Treatment

Home remedies and OTC drugs may provide temporary relief; when symptoms continue, NYU Langone doctors offer innovative endoscopic and surgical solutions to provide long-term symptom relief.

GERD occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES, weakens or fails to close correctly, allowing stomach fluids to back up into your esophagus causing irritation and inflammation of its lining. Repeated acid reflux can wear away at it over time leading to precancerous changes (Barrett’s Esophagus) or cancerous transformation of its cells – potentially increasing your risk.

Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs may help with treating GERD, including antacids that neutralize stomach acid production while decreasing it. Other medicines called H-2 receptor blockers and proton pump inhibitors may be stronger and more effective at managing symptoms; these medicines work by decreasing acid secretion before its release and may be prescribed if OTC remedies do not do the job.

Children and infants suffering from frequent acid reflux should visit a pediatrician, particularly if they refuse to eat or gain weight. In extreme cases, babies may have trouble breathing, experience skin discoloration (cyanosis) or become incapable of inhalation due to acid inhalation.

Avoiding foods and beverages known to worsen GERD can help, but for others this alone may not be sufficient. Esophageal manometry provides a way to measure how well the lower esophagus and LES are functioning by drinking a liquid containing sensors while being monitored by a specialist who observes for signs of reflux.

If you experience throat burning, try sucking on a lozenge or drinking nonfat milk to relieve discomfort. If the pain doesn’t subside within two weeks, consult with a healthcare provider – it could be an indicator of more serious conditions such as an infection or allergy.

Prevention

Acid reflux can wreak havoc on both the throat and lung linings, eventually leading to difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) and hoarseness, and increasing the risk of precancerous changes known as Barrett’s Esophagus and cancerous conditions in the esophagus (Barell’s Esophagus and Esophageal Cancer). If symptoms of acid reflux appear frequently, seek advice from your healthcare provider regarding self-care strategies as well as medications – older children and adults may require medication in addition to self-care strategies for self-care strategies.

Lower Esophageal Sphincter muscles in your stomach normally keep stomach acids out of the throat and pharynx (the upper part of your throat that contains the voice box). Sometimes this muscle relaxes at night or when lying down, leading to reflux. Too frequently opening of this sphincter causes inflammation within the esophagus causing acidic content entering lungs irritating throat irritant as well as heartburn symptoms – an all too familiar scenario!

Foods and beverages known to cause acid reflux include caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, tomatoes, salad dressings and fatty foods like steak or bacon. If your symptoms of reflux are chronic or ongoing, altering your diet might help.

Over-the-counter antacid medications can provide much-needed relief from acid reflux and throat discomfort, providing immediate comfort. Be sure to read and follow label directions closely, taking only what will help relieve your symptoms, consulting your physician first before beginning to take new medicines.

Sleeping with your head elevated may help decrease reflux during the night. To achieve this, place wooden or cement blocks under your legs at the head end of your bed or use a mattress wedge to raise your head by 6 inches. Professional singers who frequently experience reflux may carry blocks in their luggage to use in hotel rooms.

Stressful situations can slow digestion and increase pain sensitivity, increasing your likelihood of acid reflux. Try practicing relaxation techniques to combat stress. Also try eating smaller meals more frequently so that your stomach won’t become as full and trigger heartburn episodes; wait at least three hours after consuming food to lie down or go to bed.

FAQs

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