As a relatively short (acute) problem that responds well to treatment and never returns again;
As a long-term (chronic) condition that requires treatment for the rest of your life;
Or, as a long term problem that occurs in short boutsfrom several weeks to monthsimproves with treatment and goes away, and then returns againeven several months to years later (chronic intermittent).
The reason why reflux laryngitis behaves in so many different ways is not well understood.
Key Information: The Heartburn Puzzle
"Why don't I have 'heartburn' if my voice problem is from backflow of stomach acids?"
For unclear reasons, patients with LPR do not commonly experience heartburn (a burning sensation in the chest that is not due to a heart problem but due to irritation and/or inflammation of the esophagus or esophagitis caused by backflow of stomach fluids into the esophagus or GERD).
This is unexpected especially since acid that affects the voice box must first pass through the esophagus.
Different Reactions to Stomach Fluid
Physicians believe that the esophagus may be better able to resist the effects of stomach fluids (acid and enzymes) than the voice box.
When exposed to the same stomach fluid, the voice box is more sensitive or susceptible than the food pipe.
If only small amounts of stomach acid backflow into both the esophagus and voice box (larynx)swelling and irritation may occur only in the voice box without affecting the "tougher" more resistant lining cover (mucosa) of the esophagus.
A Different Puzzle
Some patients with reflux laryngitis do experience heartburn (a burning sensation in the chest that is not due to a heart problem but due to irritation and/or inflammation of the esophagus or esophagitis).
Right Action Plan
Therefore, physicians need to perform a full evaluation to determine whether backflow of stomach fluids affects both the voice box and esophagus.
What do patients feel when they have reflux laryngitis?
Swelling and irritation of the voice box caused by stomach fluid backflow into the larynx is associated with a number of common complaints listed below.
Patient education material presented here does not substitute for medical consultation or examination, nor is it intended to provide advice on the medical treatment appropriate to any specific circumstances.