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Dig Dis. 2009;27(1):14-7. doi: 10.1159/000210098. Epub 2009 May 8.

Reflux-associated laryngitis and laryngopharyngeal reflux: a gastroenterologist's point of view.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University of Graz, Graz, Austria.


Laryngopharyngeal reflux of liquid and gaseous gastric contents should be considered in every patient with unexplained hoarseness. Pathophysiology and treatment of reflux-associated laryngitis are different from those of reflux esophagitis and therefore remain an unsolved puzzle. The laryngeal mucosa is considerably more sensitive to acid and pepsin than the mucosa of the esophagogastric junction. Therefore definitions of acid and nonacid reflux used for gastroesophageal reflux disease may not be helpful for explaining pathophysiologic mechanisms in the larynx or pharynx. A reflux symptom index and reflux finding score may be useful in helping to select the minority of patients who may benefit from acid-suppressive therapy; however, further research is needed. Further research is also needed to identify those patients who may require higher doses or prolonged duration of proton pump inhibitors or alternative treatments like prokinetics or alginate, or those patients who may benefit from surgical treatment of gastroesophageal reflux. Since symptoms of laryngopharyngeal reflux may predict esophageal adenocarcinoma, every patient with laryngopharyngeal reflux should have an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, even if no classical symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease are present.

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