Reflux Laryngitis - Experience

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Why does reflux laryngitis occur?

Reflux is caused by weakness in the muscle at the junction of the esophagus with the stomach. Normally, this muscular valve, or sphincter, functions to keep food and stomach acid from moving upward from the stomach to the esophagus and larynx. This valve opens to allow food into the stomach and closes to keep the stomach's contents from coming back up. The backward movement of stomach contents (gastric contents) up into the esophagus is called gastroesophageal reflux.

Additionally, any increase in abdominal pressure (such as obesity or tight clothing), which can push acid back from the stomach up the esophagus, or a  patient with a hiatal hernia, will have an increased risk for reflux. When it causes symptoms, it is referred to as gastroesophageal reflux disease (or GERD). When the acid backs up into the voice box (larynx), the condition is referred to as reflux laryngitis.

Stomach acid can cause irritation of the lining of the esophagus, larynx, and throat. This can lead to:

  • erosion of the lining of the esophagus (erosive esophagitis),
  • narrowing of the esophagus (stricture),
  • chronic hoarseness,
  • chronic throat clearing,
  • difficulty swallowing,
  • foreign body sensation in the throat,
  • asthma or cough,
  • spasms of the vocal cords,
  • sinusitis, and
  • growths on the vocal cords (granulomas).

Rarely, reflux can lead to cancers of the esophagus or larynx.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: Allen, 75 or over Male (Patient) Published: March 11

I awoke in 1992 with severe pain, which was diagnosed as hiatal hernia, and have contended with reflux laryngitis since then. I use a large foam wedge to sleep, sleeping pills, and your range of OTC medicines. One rare event was regurgitation of a bag of popcorn. I only medicate when pain occurs. Other health factors prevent any regular medications. I find sereneness, quiet, and regular sleep more help than anything. Food does not matter. In fact, diets can be dangerous. I also find most doctors are ignorant of the condition, and have maltreated me several times, in hospitals. Once, I was treated in hospital, with an agitating drug, that caused me to leave his treatment, in pain. OTC medications relieved the pain in one hour.

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Comment from: MM1999, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: September 04

With reflux laryngitis I had 3 years hoarse voice, now almost no voice. It feels like food sticks in my throat sometimes. I have constant pain/burning in chest, throat spasms, nausea in the morning, stomach pain/burning frequently, heart burn daily and bad taste in the mouth. I wake up choking and coughing multiple times a week. I have tried every over the counter medicine. I stopped eating any hot/spicy foods and acidic foods; nothing helps. I've always been healthy. This started about 3 years ago and it is ruining my life.

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