Sore throat is very common among the masses. The throat includes your esophagus, trachea, epiglottis, and tonsils.
As most of us have heard, viruses, bacteria or allergies may cause a sore throat. For e.g cold or flu in the case of a viral infection or streptococcus in the case of a bacterial infection (strep throat). However, ENT specialists list acid reflux as the most common cause of a sore throat. Acid made inside the stomach may travel back up into one's esophagus (a tube connecting your mouth and stomach) and get to one's throat thus irritating its lining. This is called acid reflux, with heartburn as the most common symptom. Chronic acid reflux into one's esophagus due to the lower esophageal sphincter relaxing at the wrong time may be described as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). If it occurs without heartburn and gets to one's throat or vocal folds, it may be known as silent reflux or laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR). In this case, the acid may damage one's teeth and throat too.
The specialist uses a tongue depressor, a tool used for examination of the mouth and back of the throat. This is mandatory so as to explore the cause of sore throat whether it's due to acid reflux, bacteria, virus or allergy. Sometimes acid reflux may give the appearance of a "Cobblestone Throat," with bumps and lumps visible to the naked eye.
Obese individuals or those who wear tight clothing may experience acid reflux. As acid from one's stomach comes up into one's esophagus it may cause heartburn, a lump in one's throat, nausea, dry cough, wheezing, giving a sour taste in one's mouth, difficulty swallowing, and indigestion. One may also feel as if they have a constant sore throat and may have frequent hiccups. Some people may have trouble swallowing too. Consuming spicy, acidic, and oily foods may lead to GERD. It may also be caused by increased stress levels or vice versa. The symptoms may be noticed in either a lying position or bending over.
Some of the complications of acid reflux may include Barrett's Esophagus, narrowing of the esophagus, ulcers, erosive esophagitis, persistent cough, soreness, and hoarseness. Acid reflux may not only on damage back of the throat but the nasal airway too. Chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR) may cause long-term damage to the throat due to exposure to stomach acid.
Treatment involves H2 receptor blockers, antacids, prokinetics, and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). This counters acid production. Lifestyle changes are necessary, for e.g one should try to resist the urge to eat. However, ice cream or say dairy products may be used for management. One should avoid eating acidic, fatty, and spicy foods or going for late meals before bed. Some people prefer to drink water so as to lower the risk of acid reflux. Research shows mineral water with high hydrogen carbonate content can prevent acid reflux. Reducing weight is a good measure. Wearing loose-fitting clothes can also help. Adjusting one's sleep position by elevation of the head of the bed is recommended so as to prevent acid reflux into the esophagus or throat.