An ENT doctor explains all about acid reflux burning in the nose as part of LPR, plus cause, how to prevent and long-term effects if it keeps happening.

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Acid reflux can shoot up into the nose. After this happened to me, stinging my nasal cavity, as a result of eating too much too quickly, I decided to write an article about it.

My expert source is Dr. Stacey Silvers, MD, of Madison ENT & Facial Plastic Surgery in NYC, who is board certified in otolaryngology—specialty of the ears, nose and throat. ENT physicians deal a lot with LPR (laryngeal pharyngeal reflux).

LPR is acid reflux that makes it up to the throat—and sometimes…the nose.

Acid Reflux and the Nose

“Acid reflux is very common, indicted by the isle of medicines in the pharmacy devoted to it,” begins Dr. Silvers.

“Many of us have it and are unaware that our symptoms are reflux related.

“Throat clearing, hoarseness and dry cough are amongst the most common symptoms of ‘silent reflux’ or laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR).”

LPR can be episodic (occasional or periodic), frequent or ongoing/chronic.

“Many of us, however, do experience acid or burning in the chest and back of the throat which are classic symptoms of GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease,” continues Dr. Silvers.

“Some people may even experience the stomach acid contents reaching the back of the nose.

“When this happens, especially if the body is not prepared, one experiences significant burning and pain in the back of the nose.

“Hydrochloric acid (stomach acid) has a pH of 2 which is very acidic.  These and any reflux incidents can happen when eating too much, too fast and increasing activity soon after.”

In my case, I wolfed down a lot of food, and immediately after, experienced a little reflux spurting up my esophagus, up my throat and higher, into my nasal cavity. I instantly felt the burning. It was really weird.

But this is NOTHING to be scared of. It’s just stomach acid. It won’t stay there forever. In my case it persisted for a few minutes, then suddenly was gone.

But what if you get acid reflux in your nose on a frequent basis?

Dr. Silvers explains, “If these occurrences become frequent the body can learn to protect itself by producing a thick mucus in the throat and we will experience ‘post-nasal drip’ (a symptom, not a diagnosis).

“This is a frequent symptom of chronic silent reflux [LPR].  These reflux episodes in the throat and nose explain why refluxers are more prone to bronchial infections, throat infections and sinus infections.”

You don’t have to worry about getting cancer in your nose from acid reflux going up there.

“The acid changes our healthy protective bacterial flora, making us more susceptible to unwanted infectious bacteria,” adds Dr. Silvers.

“Chronic GERD sufferers should work with a gastroenterologist to assure that the acid has not caused stomach and esophageal problems.”

I mentioned that acid reflux going up into the nose won’t cause cancer. However…chronic GERD can increase the patient’s risk of esophageal cancer. This is a condition called Barrett’s esophagus.

Prevention of Acid Going into the Nose

“Chronic LPR sufferers should see an ear, nose and throat specialist to have the throat examined.

“Most importantly, avoid late night eating, eat slower, avoid excessive highly acidic and processed foods.  Medications are available if these conservative regimens fail.”

stacey silvers, MD

An NYC expert in ear, nose and throat care, Dr. Silvers has been named among America’s Top Physicians and Surgeons in facial plastic surgery and otolaryngology from 2003-2012.