The laryngopharyngeal reflux refers to the retrograde flow of gastric contents into the voice box and the throat. It may lead to disease with symptoms such as chronic cough, wheezing, hoarseness, noisy breathing, apnea, trouble gaining weight, trouble swallowing, trouble breathing, laryngitis, pharyngitis, and so on. A person with laryngopharyngeal reflux may also complain of heartburn (i.e. the burning sensation in the lower chest), although the latter is a symptom more commonly felt in individuals with gastroesophageal reflux disease. Some people with asthma tend to also have laryngopharyngeal reflux.
The retrograde flow of gastric contents is associated with dysfunctional sphincters of the esophagus. The sphincters at both ends of the esophagus help keep the gastric contents stay in the stomach. However, when the sphincters do not function properly, the gastric contents flow back up into the esophagus and into the pharynx (i.e. back of the throat), or the larynx. The acid from the stomach may damage and cause inflammation in these areas during constant exposure.
Abbreviation / Acronym:
- extraesophageal reflux disease (EERD)
- atypical reflux
- silent reflux
- supra-esophageal reflux