Acute acid reflux happens occasionally in life with overeating, excessive alcohol consumption and vigorous physical activity immediately after eating a large meal. It often passes on its own and is unlikely to recur. These acute occurrences are still known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), but GERD is more often thought of as a chronic condition. In this instance a person experiences episodes of acid reflux on a regular basis, and sometimes even daily. However, many of these episodes are asymptomatic and a person may never experience any symptoms despite the backward flow of stomach acid.
Reflux laryngitis is irritation and inflammation of the larynx due to stomach acid. It is a consequence of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) where the acidic stomach contents spill into the esophagus (food pipe) and rise as high up as the throat. Initially it may cause some irritation of the larynx but over time, the recurrent exposure click here for info to acid can significantly damage the vocal cords and other structures in the larynx. GERD is a common condition but not every case will involve the larynx and throat – a condition known as laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR). If GERD is well managed, it is unlikely that laryngeal and pharyngeal (throat) complications will ever arise.
Movement of food through the junction between the stomach and esophagus is controlled by the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). This opens as food is passing down the esophagus thereby allowing it to enter the stomach. It otherwise remains tightly closed to ensure that gastric contents (food, fluid, stomach acid and enzymes) cannot pass backwards from the stomach into the esophagus. In GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) the valve is either temporarily or permanently dysfunctional allowing stomach acid and the other contents to flow backwards into the esophagus.
Since the esophagus cannot withstand the highly corrosive acid, it causes irritation and inflammation of the esophageal walls. This is experienced as the sensation of heartburn. Although GERD is a common condition, a large number of patients never experience any symptoms. In severe cases the stomach acid can pass high up into the esophagus, and even spill out of the esophagus into the throat (pharynx) and voice box (larynx). Inflammation of these areas due to the action of stomach acid is known as reflux pharyngitis and reflux laryngitis respectively.