Most people have heard of acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux, also known as GERD. Did you know there is another type of reflux, known as laryngotracheal (LTR) or extra-esophageal reflux (EER)? People with LTR may not have any heartburn or indigestion symptoms. LTR sufferers complain of sinus and allergy symptoms, such as stuffy nose, post-nasal drip, and cough.
Maybe It’s Not Allergies- Post-Nasal Drip and Cough Can be Signs of Reflux
Laryngotracheal reflux manifests as allergy symptoms, like post-nasal drip and cough. If allergy treatment is not working, maybe you don’t have allergies, but instead have reflux.
Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD)
When we eat, the food passes down our esophagus into the stomach. The esophagus is a slender tube, and the stomach is like a holding tank. There is a sphincter at the junction of the two structures. Ideally this sphincter is a one way valve that helps keep food and beverages moving in one direction. The stomach produces acid to digest food. Sometimes, the acid & other stomach contents backwash into the lower esophagus. This backwash tends to cause the symptoms we associate with reflux, such as heartburn.
Heartburn is a Common Reflux Symptom
Dr. Kurt Barrett
Dr. Kurt Barrett has a different perspective on reflux. He is a physician who felt helpless to relieve the allergy suffering of his daughters. His girls had terrible allergies that did not respond to treatment. As it turned out, the reason they did not respond to treatments aimed at allergies, is because they did not have allergies! They had reflux.
Dr. Barrett proposes that as many as 50% of reflux sufferers do not have any symptoms commonly associated with reflux, such as heartburn and indigestion. Instead they have symptoms such as sore throat, hoarseness, phlegm, nasal stuffiness, post-nasal drip, coughing, and choking.
You May Be Taking This
When What You Really Need Is This
Reflux Medication (Proton Pump Inhibi...
Reflux and Pneumonia
Dr. Barrett explains the phenomena of sinus and allergy symptoms with reflux. The body produces mucous to coat the pipes, so to speak. This response is triggered by acid entering the lower esophagus, and creeping upward toward the larynx and trachea, where it could gain entry into the lungs. The mucous is an attempt to protect the lungs.
Sometimes stomach contents do rise up the esophagus to the trachea, and spill over into the lungs. This series of events could result in pneumonia. When this happens, we would call it aspiration pneumonia. Young children and the elderly seem to be particularly vulnerable to aspiration pneumonia. If someone gets one or two episodes of pneumonia per year, especially if they are known to have reflux, then aspiration should be considered.
Sinusitis and Ear Infections
The Sinus Info Center notes stomach acid sometimes travels as high as the throat and voice box, and even higher. They note symptoms such as sore throat, hoarseness, throat clearing, painful swallowing, and a feeling of fullness in the throat. Acid can cause sinusitis in children and adults, and ear infections in children.
Physical Findings of Laryngotracheal Reflux
In his book, Are You Sick of Being Sick?, Dr. Barrett describes physical findings associated with reflux. In his practice he found changes in the appearance of the uvula and ear drum. He also noted swelling and scarring of the nasal turbinates.
These findings can be crucial in the diagnosis of the client who has reflux, with no common gastric symptoms like heartburn.
Hard to Diagnose
The bottom line is this: Laryngotracheal or extra-esophageal reflux is hard to diagnose. Most clients with allergy symptoms are going to be treated for allergies. Many sufferers go for years without being correctly diagnosed. If they are being treated for allergies, unfortunately it is the wrong treatment, and symptoms do not improve.
Talk to Your Health Care Provider
This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Consult your doctor or alternative medicine provider.
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The Body Ecology Diet Cultured Vegetables
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Natural Remedies for Relief of Reflux Symptoms
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