When Your Persistent Sore Throat May Be a Sign of GERD

When Your Persistent Sore Throat May Be a Sign of GERD

It’s spring; the weather’s great. You’re wondering why you have a sore throat that just won’t go away. Your temperature’s normal and you don’t feel sick. Could it be allergies? Or something else? 

Dr. Nilesh Patel, our board-certified ear, nose, and throat physician, can get to the root of your persistent sore throat. He performs various tests to provide the correct diagnosis so your throat feels better. If he rules out an infection and allergies, your sore throat may be caused by a form of acid reflux.

Can acid reflux cause a sore throat?

An ongoing sore throat may be a sign that you have a form of GERD, gastroesophageal reflux disease. You may have thought that acid reflux causes other symptoms like heartburn. That’s often the case, but not always.

What is GERD?

GERD is chronic acid reflux. Your stomach acid is traveling back up into your esophagus, the pathway your food travels to get to your stomach. 

At the entrance to the stomach, you have a valve called the lower esophageal sphincter that opens to let food pass into your stomach and then closes when you’re not eating. Acid reflux occurs when the valve isn’t functioning properly and remains partially open after you’ve finished eating. 

As you eat, stomach acids help you digest your food. If the valve remains open, some of the acid can travel back into your esophagus and throat, causing acid reflux symptoms.

Hoarseness and a sore throat can be symptoms of GERD

Instead of having heartburn, some people with GERD may experience hoarseness and a sore throat. Hoarseness is a result of acid impacting your larynx, or voice box. You may need to clear your throat frequently. 

The acid can also affect your pharynx, the back of your throat, causing soreness. This is a type of GERD called laryngopharyngeal reflux, or LPR. Symptoms also might include a persistent cough or difficulty when swallowing.

The flexible laryngoscopy 

Dr. Patel examines your ear, nose, and throat. He may perform an in-office procedure called a flexible laryngoscopy to diagnose the cause of your troublesome symptoms and to rule out cancer. 

To ease discomfort during this quick procedure, Dr. Patel numbs your nose. Then he threads a thin tube called the laryngoscope into a nostril and examines your throat. The instrument has a bright light, a lens, and a video camera that shows your larynx and the back of your throat. Dr. Patel may ask you to say something during the procedure to test your voice. Finally, he gently removes the laryngoscope.

Treatment for GERD

You may need prescription medication to treat your GERD. Changing your eating patterns may ease your symptoms. Eat your last meal several hours before bedtime so acid doesn’t travel upward when you’re lying down. Certain beverages like caffeine, soda, and alcohol can make GERD worse. Likewise, fatty and fried foods and chocolate can be triggers. Find your triggers and limit them.

Call Dr. Nilesh Patel today or request a same-day appointment at one of his Midtown, New York City offices for all of your health issues affecting your ear, nose, and throat.

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