How is laryngopharyngeal reflux treated?
Most cases of LPR do not need medical care and can be managed with lifestyle changes, including the following:
- Follow a bland diet (low acid levels, low in fat, not spicy).
- Eat frequent, small meals.
- Lose weight.
- Avoid the use of alcohol, tobacco and caffeine.
- Do not eat food less than 2 hours before bedtime.
- Raise the head of your bed before sleeping. Place a strong, solid object (like a board) under the top portion of the mattress. This will help prop up your head and the upper portion of your body, which will help keep stomach acid from backing up into your throat.
- Avoid clearing your throat.
- Take over-the-counter medications, including antacids, such as Tums®, Maalox®, or Mylanta; stomach acid reducers, such as ranitidine (Tagamet® or Zantac®); or proton pump inhibitors, such as omeprazole (Prilosec®), pantoprazole (Protonix®), and esomeprazole (Nexium®). Be sure to take all medications as directed.
In very severe cases of LPR, surgery may be recommended as treatment.
What can happen if laryngopharyngeal reflux is not treated?
If it is not treated, LPR can lead to:
- Sore throat
- Chronic cough
- Swelling of the vocal folds
- Ulcers (open sores) on the vocal folds
- Formation of granulomas (masses) in the throat
- Worsening of asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis
Untreated LPR also may play a role in the development of cancer of the voice box.