Sore throats happen for a wide range of reasons, including cold and flu viruses, strep throat, and exposure to airborne irritants like cigarette smoke. A less common reason for throat irritation may surprise you. It’s a side effect of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). You might know it better as acid reflux.
While heartburn might be the most common symptom of GERD, it’s far from the only one. You could have a GERD-related sore throat without any heartburn symptoms. If you’re having unexplained throat or voice issues, it may be a connection you want to check out.
Visit us at Sheridan Ear, Nose & Throat for an exam and diagnosis. We’re specialists when it comes to ailments of the throat. Let’s take a look at the link between acid reflux and a chronic sore throat.
Also known as laryngopharyngeal reflux or LPR, there’s nothing silent about the condition. Throat irritation and pain, voice issues, and tooth decay are some of the symptoms silent reflux can cause. Respiratory issues can also develop, aggravating asthma if you already have that condition.
When acid reflux affects the throat, you may feel like you have a lump in your throat that won’t clear. It’s often tricky to connect a sore throat with GERD. Chronic tonsillitis is often a diagnosis made before honing in on acid reflux as a cause.
If your sore throat becomes chronic due to its exposure to stomach acids, you may develop certain conditions as a result of the prolonged irritation. These complications include:
- Barrett's esophagus: tissue changes in the lower esophagus that may lead to cancer
- Tissue erosion: painful ulcers may form
- Esophageal narrowing: a build-up of scar tissue that makes swallowing difficult
- Vocal cord inflammation: the primary LPR effect, symptoms include chronic throat clearing, a feeling that something’s stuck in your throat, coughing, and hoarseness of voice
Even small amounts of acid reflux can cause significant damage to the vocal cords.
Acid reflux home care
You can make some changes that might ease your GERD symptoms without resorting to medical treatment. Some of these self-care strategies include:
- Quitting smoking
- Reducing alcoholic drinks, caffeinated beverages, and carbonated products
- Avoiding acidic drinks like orange and tomato juice
- Eating smaller meals more frequently
- Maintaining an optimal weight
- Bypassing overly acidic, spicy, or fatty foods
- Skipping chocolate or foods with mint
Wearing loose-fitting clothes and sleeping with your head elevated can also help you avoid the backward flow of stomach acid.
At Sheridan Ear, Nose & Throat, we have a range of treatments for GERD, the key to beating the chronic sore throat symptoms caused by stomach acid. Visit us when your home care treatments fail to produce sufficient results. Call or click to schedule your visit today.