Has your throat been sore or burning lately? Do you also have recurring acid reflux that has possibly led to esophagitis?
How does all of this tie together?
Reflux esophagitis also goes by the name erosive esophagitis. Don’t let the term “erosive” scare you. This doesn’t mean an ulcer burrowing through the tissue. It refers to an injured state of the esophageal tissue.
“Reflux esophagitis does not cause a sore throat (since reflux esophagitis simply refers to inflammation in the lower esophagus that is secondary to acid reflux),” says Santosh Sanagapalli, MD, a consultant gastroenterologist, endoscopist and specialist in esophageal disorders.
“However, gastroesophageal reflux can lead to a sore throat if the reflux extends very high up and reaches the throat.
“It is thought to lead to sore throat due to irritation of the larynx and other structures in the neck by refluxed stomach acid.”
In short, the cause of reflux esophagitis can also cause a sore throat.
Usually, but not always, an irritated throat from stomach acid will have a burning sensation to it. The “soreness” will not feel like tonsillitis or what one experiences with a bad cold.
Pain in the Throat
“However, there are many other causes of sore throat,” continues Dr. Sanagapalli.
“An ENT doctor may perform a nasendoscopic examination of the throat and find swelling and inflammation of the vocal cords which can be a sign of reflux.
“However, this finding is not specific, and there are other causes of swelling in this area also.
“An ENT doctor can’t diagnose reflux based on the appearance of the vocal cords (we have good evidence to show this is the case).
“We don’t have any accurate diagnostic tests to tell us whether sore throat is secondary to GERD, as all of our tests for acid reflux only tell us whether there are abnormal amounts of acid in the esophagus, not whether the stomach acid reaches the throat.
“For this reason, a pragmatic approach in patients who complain of persistent sore throat with no other cause found is to trial them on PPI (acid reducing) therapy to see if it provides them with any relief.”
PPI drugs include Nexium and Prilosec.
A persistently sore throat with the development of new symptoms that seem related (difficulty swallowing, hoarse voice, cough) needs to be investigated to rule out laryngeal or other cancer.
Here is an in-depth explanation of acid reflux including causes and treatments.
Dr. Sanagapalli is a gastroenterologist and director of the Esophageal Disorders Center at St Vincent’s Hospital, Darlinghurst. He performs diagnostic and therapeutic endoscopic procedures, and enjoys providing comprehensive and holistic care to patients with a wide variety of disorders affecting the gastrointestinal tract.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.