Acid Reflux Guide

Acid Reflux and the Healing of the Throat

Should healing of the throat be a part of acid reflux treatment? At times, the cause of a sore throat may actually be acid reflux. This can happen to someone even if they do not have any symptoms of heartburn, and is sometimes called silent reflux, supra-oesophageal reflux, or laryngo-pharyngeal reflux. Acid reflux into the larynx occurs when the stomach acid travels further backwards from the oesophagus to the larynx. As the vocal cords swell from acid irritation, their normal vibration is disrupted resulting in symptoms such as hoarseness, excessive mucus or phlegm, throat clearing, sore throat, choking spells, wheezing, or a sense of post-nasal drip.

The sensation of "a lump in the throat," is also very common.  This is due to hyperactivity of the muscle trying to hold the acid down in the oesophagus.  Finally, as a response to laryngeal injury due to the gastric acid, the larynx produces a significant amount of mucus.  Patients therefore often complain of persistent throat clearing and the sensation of postnasal drip.  As the body cannot tell if the "drip" is coming from the larynx or from the sinuses above, LPR is often confused with sinus symptoms or even asthma symptoms.

Acid reflux affects many voice users like singers, some of whom may be unaware that the source of their vocal difficulty is medical, and healing of the throat can be achieved with the options listed below:   

·         Eating or drinking within three hours of bedtime or lying down must be avoided. People suffering from reflux may have delayed emptying of the stomach leaving increased amounts of food in the stomach. Allow time for gastric emptying before retiring.


·         Avoid overeating. It is better to eat several small meals each day than to eat one or two big meals. 


·         To avoid intra-abdominal pressure do not wear tight-fitting clothing, abstain from bending at the waist, or straining, after eating.


·         Reduce your intake of foods that increase stomach acid production. These include fatty, fried, spicy, or acidic foods, chocolate, caffeine, carbonated beverages, peppermint/ spearmint, and alcohol.


·         Elevate the head of your bed with the help of blocks or bricks. 


·         Lose weight.  You should lose weight if you are overweight; excess weight puts pressure on the stomach contents.


·         Stop the use of any tobacco products. This is important for overall health too.


·         Chew sugarless gum. New research shows post-meal gum chewing appeared to reduce acid in the oesophagus and quell heartburn symptoms among people with chronic reflux problems. Gum stimulates saliva production, which neutralizes acid remaining in the larynx and oesophagus. 


·         Sleep on your left side. The oesophagus enters the stomach on your right side.  Sleeping on your left side may help to prevent food from the stomach from refluxing into the oesophagus.


·         Natural home remedies for a sore throat involves gargling with a mixture of one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to half a cup of water, using 3 mouthfuls of mixture each hour. However, do not swallow the mixture as it acts like a sponge drawing out throat and mouth microbes and toxins. Herbs like slippery elm, licorice, fennel, aloe vera, turmeric are all soothing to the throat and safe to drink.

It is best to avoid antacids and acid blockers as they only relieve heartburn symptoms and do not treat the root causes of the disease. To treat acid reflux and complications like sore throat, holistic approach is the best option. It will take into account all the aspects like mental, emotional, spiritual as well as the physical dimensions to actually heal the body, and not just get rid of the symptoms. The holistic medical practitioner will make suggestions in addition to the above all of which may be integrated in your life to achieve overall health.

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