Acid Reflux (GERD)
Acid Reflux can have varying effects on individuals. Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is backflow of stomach content into the esophagus. GERD is often associated with heartburn, a painful burning sensation in the chest. Laryngopharyngeal Reflux Disease (LPRD) refers to the backflow of stomach contents into the throat and voice box. Chronic hoarseness, throat clearing and cough, a feeling of a lump in the throat, or difficulty swallowing may be signs that you have LPRD.
With proper treatment reflux doesn’t usually cause serious medical problems. Without treatment, serious problems can occur such as asthma or bronchitis, choking episodes, sleep apnea, and relatively uncommonly, cancer of the esophagus, lung, throat, or voice box. For cancer to develop as a result of reflux, it must be very severe and go untreated for many years.
If you are experiencing reflux:
Controlling your lifestyle and diet is most important. Most people with reflux need to modify how and when they eat.
- If you use tobacco, quit.
- Avoid tight clothing around the waist.
- Do not lie down after eating and do not eat within three hours of bedtime.
- Avoid caffeine, soda and mints.
What will happen at my visit to Mid-Kansas Ear, Nose & Throat?
Our physicians will examine the voice box and throat. If swelling is apparent, your physician will complete a series of tests for accurate diagnosis and treatment plan creation. One test evaluates the swallowing mechanism, function and the esophagus and stomach valves. An overnight test, pH monitoring, measures acid in the esophagus and throat throughout the day and night. A minimally-invasive endoscopic test allows physicians to examine your esophagus for signs of damage from reflux and to make sure that you don’t have pre-cancer or other growths in the esophagus.
Each treatment plan is customized and could include lifestyle and diet changes; prescription and over-the-counter medication; and surgery to restore the stomach valve and prevent reflux. When properly managed, some individuals recover completely or have reflux-free intervals. Other patients need lifelong medication. For patients who don’t improve, stomach surgery may be necessary to restore function of the main esophageal valve.