As always, speak with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns regarding your health.
Thank you to RefluxMD for sharing this important information regarding LPR!
An astounding 40% of Americans have reflux disease, manifesting as 22% gastroesophageal reflux disease and 18% extraesophageal / laryngopharyngeal reflux disease (LPR). This means about 1 out of 5 people suffer from LPR symptoms. (Ylitalo Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2004 Jul;131(1):29-33)
You may be familiar with this variant of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) that doesn’t play by the same rules as your typical case of acid reflux. LPR is different from traditional acid reflux because it affects the more sensitive lining of the upper esophagus, larynx, and pharynxInstead of the common reflux symptoms of heartburn, nausea, and regurgitation, patients with LPR often notice less traditional symptoms like sore throat, hoarseness, post-nasal drip, and chronic cough.
The difficulty diagnosing LPR
Many of the symptoms of LPR can be mistakenly attributed to other causes like pre-existing asthma, allergies, laryngitis, or upper-respiratory infection, making the task of accurately diagnosing LPR a real challenge for even an experienced practitioner. Adding to the difficulty is the lack of accurate testing tools for LPR. To date, the most common testing methods have been the use of a laryngoscope to conduct a visual exam of the area and pH monitoring of the lower esophagus. The challenge with these tests is their lack of accuracy, with nearly 80 percent of LPR patients showing “normal” results through laryngoscopy, and 70 to 80 percent of patients showing “normal” results through esophageal pH monitoring.
Restech pH probe: A new tool for diagnosing LPR
A recent issue of Gastroenterology and Hepatology features an interview with Dr. Michael F. Vaezi that reveals a promising new technological development for the accurate diagnosis of LPR. Dr. Vaezi, the Director at the Center for Swallowing and Esophageal Disorders, explains that the biggest issue with the current pH testing methods for LPR is the lack of accuracy in dmeasuring acid in the upper esophagus.
According to Dr.Vaezi, the recently introduced Restech pH probe is unique from other pH probes in that it’s able to sense both liquid and vaporized forms of reflux, making detection more likely. Other innovative features of Restech’s device are its microsensor and light emitting diode, which guides the rapid and accurate placement of the sensor in the back of the patient’s mouth.
“A recent study conducted by my colleagues and I suggests that this device has increased sensitivity compared with a traditional pH catheter and that it may detect more reflux in patients with LPR,” said Dr. Vaezi in the G&R interview.
Though Dr. Vaezi notes in the interview that future studies are needed to better determine the accuracy of the device, the new Restech pH probe is already helping practitioners diagnose their patients LPR.
Post-diagnosis: Developing an LPR treatment plan
If you are diagnosed with LPR, it’s important to work with your physician to develop a treatment plan that’s right for you. The anatomy of the throat, voice box (larynx), and trachea are delicate, and especially vulnerable to the damaging effects of reflux. By learning to manage your symptoms through sustainable lifestyle choices and treatment options you’ll be taking steps towards improving your quality of life.
Here are some suggestions to help manage LPR symptoms:
- Increase your liquid consumption to stay hydrated but avoid acidic carbonated beverages
- Limit or avoid caffeine, alcohol, and antihistamines
- Rest your voice and limit loud or prolonged speaking or singing.
- Stop smoking and avoid second hand smoke