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reflux.hrGastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD, or reflux for short) is a condition in which acids from the stomach leak into the esophagus, causing typical symptoms of heartburn and sometimes regurgitation and nausea. Other symptoms of reflux can include hoarseness, a sensation of something being stuck in your throat, frequent throat clearing, sore throat, and trouble swallowing. This type of reflux is called laryngopharyngeal reflux or LPR.

Causes of Acid Reflux

Acid reflux is common. It is estimated that 25-40% of Americans experience reflux at least occasionally, with about 10% suffering on a daily or weekly basis. It occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter relaxes between swallows, allowing food and stomach acids to flow backwards into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the chest or other symptoms in the throat area.

Reflux can be caused by a number of different factors. These include lifestyle choices (cigarettes and alcohol), diet (fatty, fried, acidic, and spicy foods, chocolate, caffeine, mint), obesity, poor eating habits, bad posture, medications (beta-blockers, sedatives, antidepressants, and others), and conditions like hiatal hernia, pregnancy, and diabetes.

Treating Reflux

Often, heartburn or other throat symptoms are enough for a doctor to diagnose you with reflux. To be certain, he or she may administer an endoscopy or order other tests to determine if you have reflux.

Treating reflux may be as simple as making alterations to your lifestyle. Staying away from foods that trigger reflux is an easy and effective way of avoiding heartburn and other pain. Additional steps like quitting smoking, cutting back on alcohol and caffeine, and losing weight can make a big difference. Antacids offer instant relief, and long-term solutions such as surgery or medications that reduce the levels of acid in your stomach can help those with severe and recurring symptoms.

If you suffer from symptoms of reflux, please contact our office and schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified ENT specialists.

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