Laryngopharyngeal Reflux/Reflux Laryngitis Protocol


In some people, irritating acid stomach juices may leak out of the stomach and into the esophagus and throat. This causes irritation, decreased sensation, and muscle spasms in the throat. Some of the symptoms include: cough, burning or soreness, hoarseness, throat clearing, excess mucous, bitter taste, bad breath, and a sensation of a lump in the throat. Most people with laryngopharyngeal reflux and reflux laryngitis do not experience heartburn as a common symptom of their reflux disease.

The following instructions are designed to help neutralized the stomach acid, reduce the production of acid, and prevent acid from coming up the esophagus and into the larynx and throat. You should use as many of the suggestions as you need to get relief. If these measures do not help, or if your symptoms get worse, you should let the office know about it.
Items 1 through 4 are particularly important.

1. Sleep with the head of your bed elevated. The best way to achieve elevation is to place 2” x 4” blocks of wood (cut lengthwise to match the width of your bed) within the metal bed frame and underneath the box spring of the mattress to a height of 6 – 8 inches (3 blocks stacked on top of each other). A third of distance from the head to the foot, place 2 blocks within the frame and underneath the box spring. Two thirds of the distance from the head to the foot, place 1 block within the frame and underneath the box spring. This graduated method of elevation of the head of the bed helps to keep the mattress stable.

If blocks of wood cannot be found, suitable substitutions include cinder blocks, bricks, or phone books. Sleeping on several pillows is not advised, it creates further compression on your abdomen and promotes reflux episodes while you are sleeping.

2. Do not eat 3 or 4 hours before lying down to sleep.

3. Exercise (including aerobic exercise, weight lifting, singing, public speaking) on an empty stomach or wait 2 – 3 hours after eating and drinking before resuming such activities.

4. Alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine are irritants to the esophagus and should be avoided, especially in the evening. Alcohol and caffeine also promote reflux episodes and may stimulate stomach secretions.

5. Diet restrictions help control symptoms. A small bland diet divided into multiple small feedings is recommended. You should avoid highly seasoned foods, fatty foods, foods rich in dairy products, acidic foods (tomatoes, lemons, etc.), onions, and peppermint. Experiment with one food at a time to determine which foods and/or seasonings worsen your symptoms. Care should be taken to chew food thoroughly.

6. If you are overweight, you should lose weight. Sometimes weight loss of as little as 5 – 10 pounds can have a tremendous effect on the occurrence of reflux episodes. Ask us for a referral to a clinical dietician for assistance.

7. Clothing that fits tightly across the midsection of the body should be avoided (for example: girdles, tight belts, corsets, etc.).

8. Activities and exercises which require lifting, bending, stooping, etc., should be minimized, especially while your acute symptoms are present.

9. Maintaining a relaxed attitude in your activities helps to reduce symptoms.

10. Recent evidence suggests that chewing sugarless gum, especially bicarbonate gum, helps control reflux. If there are no dental reasons why you cannot chew gum, it is worth checking the effects of gum chewing for about a half an hour after meals, or at other times when reflux is troublesome. Chewing two sticks is more effective than chewing only one.

We wish you a quick recovery!