Silent acid reflux, also known as Laryngopharngeal Reflux or LPR, is a condition that you could be suffering from without even knowing it, and can have many negative impacts on health. Similar in many ways to Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (better known as GERD), there are a few critical differences that can make silent reflux very difficult to treat, and even harder to diagnose.
As opposed to traditional GERD, silent acid reflux may not present itself with symptoms normally associated with the condition. Normally reflux disease causes a burning sensation in the chest or throat, as well as the stomach. LPR is called silent reflux because often it does not cause these same problems, but can cause a number of other symptoms--including, but not limited to:
- Chronic couging or hoarseness
- Asthma or breathing problems
- Sleep apnea
- Constant need to clear the throat
- Excess mucus build up
Caused by a weakness in the muscles between the esophagus and the stomach, silent reflux can have many negative long and short term implications such as recurring ear infections, ulcers in the stomach and throat, scarring of the throat and voice box, in addition to very serious conditions like emphysema and cancer. It is interesting that at the time of upper endoscopy when examining the esophageal lining, it can appear very normal yet people present with symptoms mostly in the throat area. The lining and membranes of the throat area are very delicate and not as durable as the esophageal lining. So, when the reflux material comes up into the throat area it is more apt to be causing injury. Often the gastroenterologist will work with the ear nose and throat physician to properly manage the condition. Ultimately if reflux is proven and one is not responsive to medical therapy, consideration to procedural therapy for reflux would be appropriate.
It takes a very skilled Gastroenterologist to diagnose silent acid reflux--if you suspect you may have the condition, it is important to consult a Physician immediately.