Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a chronic digestive disease that occurs when stomach acid or, occasionally, bile flows back (refluxes) into your food pipe (esophagus). The backwash of acid irritates the lining of your esophagus and causes GERD signs and symptoms that are generally referred to as heartburn or reflux. In addition to heartburn symptoms, severe GERD can also cause problems with worsening asthma, recurrent pneumonia, or chronic laryngitis. The treatment for GERD is usually begun with lifestyle modification and diet changes. When this is insufficient, medications can be added to manage the symptoms. For some patients these treatments might not be enough and surgery may be indicated.
Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR), also known as extraesophageal reflux disease, silent reflux, and supra-esophageal reflux, is caused by the flow of stomach contents back up through the esophagus and back into the larynx, oropharynx and/or the nasopharynx. The stomach fluids that cause LPR symptoms can be either acidic or non-acidic. In fact, even gas coming up from the stomach can cause the same problems. The diagnosis of LPR can often be very difficult as patients often have minimal heartburn symptoms. It only takes three episodes of reflux per week into the proximal esophagus and throat to cause chronic symptoms. Patients with LPR often require extensive evaluations to confirm the diagnosis.