Is Acid Reflux causing your symptoms?
What is Reflux?
Our stomachs naturally produce acid to digest food. Sometimes this acid flows back into the esophagus, the tube connecting the throat to the stomach. When this occurs frequently and persistently, it is called Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). The common symptom is heartburn, a burning sensation in the chest caused by acid reflux in the esophagus. Stomach acid can also be refluxed into the throat, a condition called Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR). LPR can occur without heartburn, making it difficult to diagnose. That is why it is sometimes referred to as a “silent” disease.
- Hoarseness, especially in the morning
- Chronic throat clearing or persistent cough
- Chronic sore throat
- A feeling of something caught in the throat
- Excessive mucous/post nasal drip
- Difficulty swallowing
- Restless sleep
How Serious is Reflux?
A small amount of reflux is normal. The esophagus can handle acid exposure better than the throat, where the tissue is much more sensitive. If LPR is left untreated, it can cause serious damage to the tissues of the throat, upper airway and the lungs. LPR can also lead to serious problems including vocal cord nodules, subglottic stenosis (airway narrowing), granulomas, and even cancer. In addition LPR can exacerbate asthma and sinusitis.
How is Reflux Diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask a series of questions about your symptoms to determine if reflux may be causing your discomfort. It is important to tell your doctor about any habits you have or medications you are currently taking. Your doctor may proceed with an examination of your throat to check for signs of swelling and redness, granulomas, and polps. Your doctor may perform a 24 hr pH study to more accurately diagnose your condition and develop a treatment path.
Restech Dx-pH Test
On diagnostic test that your doctor may perform is with the Dx-pH System. It is a simple, comfortable test to detect acid reaching your airway. This is done with a small tube (about the size of a piece of spaghetti) that has a sensor at the tip. It is placed through your nose until the tip is in the back of your throat, high enough so that you don’t feel it when you talk, eat, drink or swallow. The sensor collect pH data and send it to a small recorder that you wear on your belt or over your shoulder. During the test period (ip to 24 or 48 hours) you can eat normal meals, go to work, and even exercise. The Dx System will track your pH levels and document the frequency and severity of your reflux. With the press of a button, you can track your meals, symptoms, and sleep times. This information will help your doctor correlate your symptoms and any reflux you are having.