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Laryngopharyngeal Acid Reflux Disease

Laryngopharyngeal acid reflux disease—also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)—is a common digestive disorder brought on when gastric acid flows from the stomach up to the throat. People who experience recurrent reflux or heartburn symptoms are often diagnosed with acid reflux disease.

Chronic acid reflux can lead to other conditions, including inflammation, ulceration, scarring, stricture (narrowing), throat irritation, throat phlegm, throat clearing and hoarse voice.

Otolaryngologists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) specialize in treating reflux disease.

Watch this video of an upper endoscopy (EGD) used to diagnose GERD/reflux disease.

Treatment for Laryngopharyngeal Acid Reflux Disease

Treatment involves lifestyle changes and medications. The goal of treatment is to find the cause, so you can prevent it from recurring.

Diet and lifestyle:

  • Add foods to your diet that tend to improve acid reflux, including:
    • Non-acidic fruits (bananas, apples, pears)
    • Foods lower in fat and calories
    • High fiber foods (whole wheat, oatmeal, brown rice, beans)
  • Avoid foods that aggravate symptoms
  • Lose weight
  • Avoid overeating
  • Stop smoking
  • Reduce alcohol and caffeine consumption
  • Wait a few hours after eating to lie down or going to bed
  • Elevate your head when sleeping; raise the head of your bed by 6-8 inches
  • Avoid medications that can irritate the lining of your stomach or esophagus (aspirin, ibuprofen)

Medications may be needed if changes in your lifestyle do not offer enough relief for your symptoms:

  • Over-the-counter H2 blockers, such as Tagamet™, Pepcid™, Zantac™
  • Over-the-counter oral antacids, such as Tums™, Maalox™, Mylanta™
  • Proton pump inhibitors, such as Prilosec™ and Prevacid™
  • Medications that make your stomach empty faster, such as Reglan™
  • Stronger, prescription-strength antacids

What You Should Expect

You will receive a thorough diagnostic examination to evaluate if you have laryngopharyngeal acid reflux disease and determine what course of treatment is needed. Careful monitoring and the involvement of an experienced otolaryngologist are important to the successful outcome for patients with ear, nose and throat disorders and conditions.

If you are having surgery or a procedure, you will likely be scheduled for a visit to the Weiner Center for Preoperative Evaluation for pre-operative information and tests.

The day of surgery, you will be taken care of in the operating room by otolaryngologist, anesthesiologists and nurses who specialize in surgery for patients with laryngopharyngeal acid reflux disease. After surgery, you will go to the post-surgical care unit where you will receive comprehensive care by experienced surgical and nursing staff.

Learn more about your hospital stay, patient-centered care and returning home.

Multidisciplinary Care

Brigham and Women’s Hospital provides a multidisciplinary approach to patient care by collaborating with colleagues who have extensive experience in diagnosing and treating ear, nose and throat disorders and conditions. In addition, patients have full access to BWH’s world-renowned academic medical community, with its diverse specialists, and state-of-the-art facilities.

Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Appointments and Locations


Learn more about laryngopharyngeal acid reflux disease in our health library.

Visit the Kessler Health Education Library in the Bretholtz Center to access computers and knowledgeable staff.

Access a complete directory of patient and family services.


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