Understanding LPR
(Laryngopharyngeal Reflux)

Stomach Acid's Impact on the Throat

Laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR) is a condition in which food or stomach acid backflows all the way up into the larynx (the voice box) or the pharynx (the throat). Patients can experience LPR any time of the day or night, even if they haven’t eaten recently.

Signs and Symptoms of LPR

LPR can cause many uncomfortable symptoms like sore throat, hoarseness, difficulty swallowing and a sensation of a lump in the throat. It may feel like a “tickle” that comes and goes, or you may have issues with too much post nasal drip. If these symptoms sound familiar, call for an appointment and let us help you!

Implications of Untreated LPR

Some patients may brush off the symptoms of LPR, but left untreated, it can cause serious problems. LPR can lead to breathing problems including asthma, bronchitis, noisy breathing and choking episodes. While uncommon, it can also lead to cancer of the esophagus, throat, or voice box. These risks increase if you smoke or drink alcohol.

LPR vs. Heartburn

LPR is a type of reflux where the acid irritates the throat and voice box, and does not stay in the esophagus very long. That means many LPR patients never experience heartburn, since the esophagus is not irritated.

Diagnosing LPR

If your primary care doctor believes you may have LPR, you will be referred to an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat doctor) like Dr. Snowden. At your visit, Dr. Snowden will likely perform a laryngoscopy procedure to evaluate your throat. He may also order other diagnostic tests such as pH monitoring and barium swallow.

Barium Swallow

A barium swallow is an x-ray test that shows how you swallow. It will help Dr. Snowden determine if your throat or esophagus is narrowing or has another abnormality.


A pH-metry measures the acid in your esophagus and throat. It is performed by inserting a small, soft tube through your nose and into your throat. The tube is usually left for 24 hours to complete and is not painful.


This common office-based, fiberoptic procedure takes only a few moments and provides essential information regarding the appearance of your vocal cords and other structures. It is also important to rule out other nasal or throat problems.

Treatment for LPR

Dr. Snowden will personalize your LPR treatment for your specific case. The main treatments for LPR include:
  1. Lifestyle changes, like weight loss and diet changes to prevent symptoms.
  2. Medications to reduce stomach acid.
  3. Reflux surgery.

Most people with LPR need a combination of treatments for the best results.

After medical therapy or reflux surgery, many patients experience symptom relief for years and won’t need ongoing treatment. Other patients will have occasional relapses, or will need medicine all the time. It all depends on your case. That’s why Dr. Snowden will work with you to ensure your symptoms are controlled with the lowest dose of medications.

Tips for Reducing Reflux and LPR

The best way to prevent reflux from home is to make simple lifestyle changes. Dr. Snowden will recommend these and other tips based on your individual case.

  • Quit smoking.
  • Avoid tight clothing, especially around the waist.
  • Avoid lying down after eating. Try not to eat within 3 hours of bedtime.
  • Avoid caffeine, including coffee, tea, energy drinks and sodas.
  • Maintain a low-acid, Mediterranean-style diet