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Acid Reflux Causing Sore Throat? Here's What You Should Do

Updated: Jan 8



Acid reflux, a common digestive condition, can bring about uncomfortable symptoms, one of which is throat pain. If you're experiencing the discomfort of a sore or irritated throat due to acid reflux, you're not alone. Fortunately, there are effective steps you can take to manage and alleviate this problem. In this blog, we'll delve into the causes of acid reflux-related throat pain and provide you with practical tips on what you should do to find relief.


Understanding Acid Reflux

Acid reflux, often referred to as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), occurs when stomach acid flows backward into the esophagus. This acid can sometimes make its way into the throat, leading to various symptoms, including throat pain. The following factors may contribute to this condition:


  • Stomach Acid Irritation: The harsh stomach acid can irritate and inflame the sensitive tissues of the throat, leading to discomfort and pain.

  • Esophageal Spasm: Acid reflux can trigger spasms in the esophagus, which can extend into the throat and cause pain.

  • Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR): LPR is a type of acid reflux that primarily affects the throat and can lead to symptoms like chronic cough, hoarseness, and throat pain.


Soothing Sore Throat Caused by Acid Reflux

A collage of a glass of water, packets of lozenges, a woman gargling, and a humidifier device.
4 Ways to Soothe Sore Throat from Acid Reflux / Getty Images, Odua Images

If you have acid reflux causing throat pain, there are some things you can do to relieve your symptoms and prevent further damage to your esophagus.


  • Drink plenty of fluids. This can help to flush away stomach acid that has backed up into your esophagus.

  • Suck on hard candy or lozenges. This can help to produce saliva, which can neutralize stomach acid.

  • Gargle with salt water. This can help to soothe inflammation in your throat.

  • Use a humidifier. This can help to moisten the air and reduce dryness and irritation in your throat.


If you have acid reflux throat pain, it is important to seek medical attention if your symptoms are severe or do not improve with home treatment.


Relieving and Managing Acid Reflux

In addition to the above treatments, there are a few other things you can do to relieve acid reflux throat pain:


Lifestyle changes

The first step in treating acid reflux is to make some lifestyle changes. This may include:


  • Eating smaller, more frequent meals. Eating large meals can put more pressure on your lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the muscle that prevents stomach acid from backing up into your esophagus.

  • Avoiding certain foods and drinks. Some foods and drinks can trigger acid reflux, such as caffeine, alcohol, fatty foods, spicy foods, and acidic foods and drinks like citrus fruits, tomatoes, and chocolate.

  • Avoid eating before lying down. Waiting 3-4 hours after a large meal before lying down will help avoid reflux.

  • Losing weight if you are overweight or obese. Excess weight can put pressure on your LES and make acid reflux more likely.

  • Elevating your head in bed. Add an extra pillow or a wedge under the head of the bed. This can help to keep stomach acid from backing up into your esophagus while you sleep.

  • Quitting smoking. Smoking can weaken your LES and make acid reflux more likely.


Over-the-counter medications

If lifestyle changes are not enough to relieve your symptoms, several over-the-counter medications can help. These medications include:

  • Antacids. Antacids neutralize stomach acid and can provide quick relief from heartburn and other symptoms of acid reflux.

  • H2 blockers. H2 blockers reduce the amount of acid produced by your stomach. They can be taken once or twice a day and can provide longer-lasting relief than antacids.


Prescription medications

If over-the-counter medications are not effective, your doctor may prescribe stronger medications, such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). PPIs work by blocking the production of stomach acid. They are typically taken once a day and can be very effective in treating acid reflux.


When to see a doctor

If you have acid reflux more than twice a week or if your symptoms are severe, you should see a doctor. Acid reflux can lead to serious complications, such as esophageal cancer, so it is important to get treatment if you have chronic acid reflux.



 

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Dr. David Eleff, Otolaryngologist/Ear, Nose, and Throat Specialist at ENT Family in Hollywood, Florida.

This article has been medically reviewed by  otolaryngologist, David Eleff, M.D.

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