Is your throat always sore? Or maybe your have to clear your throat frequently and suffer from persistent hoarseness. Maybe you are suffering from this common, but little talked-about throat problem.
GASTRIC REFLUX OR GASTRIC ACID BACK FLOW
If you have been to your doctor and they have ruled out any respiratory problem, or throat infection, then you might be suffering from gastric acid back flow. This is what happens when the acid that sits in your stomach, flows back from your stomach into your esophagus. Your esophagus (or oesophagus in the British spelling) is your "food pipe" that deliver food from the back of your mouth into your stomach. There is a valve between your esophagus and your stomach which usually prevents your stomach (or gastric) acids from coming back up, but sometimes this valve is weak, or there is some kind of pressure such as wind that forces the gastric juices upwards.
Symptoms may include
- a persistent, chronic cough
- frequent throat clearing
- hoarseness or a sore throat often at the end of the day - or it gets worse by the end of the day. Some long term sufferers have even lost their voice at at the end of every day.
- a tight or sore throat
- a tight or sore larynx (your voice box, the part that contains your vocal chords)
- difficulties in swallowing or pain when swallowing
- a gassy feeling
- burning sensation maybe in the stomach or the heart region (heartburn)
- really deep gassy burps
If left untreated, gastric reflux (known as GERD) may also travel up to other organcs such as the ears and nose.
To prevent gastric backflow or GERD, you should try to avoid eating acidic food. This includes tomatoes, orange juice, cola, lemon juice, vinegar, onions, garlic and any vegetables that have been processed with vinegar such as pickles, canned artichokes and beetroot, sauerkraut, coleslaw and similar. Acidic foods increase the acid content in your stomach so that when gastric acid backflow occurs, it feels even more painful. If you're wondering why your stomach isn't in pain all the time from having those strong acids, that's because the stomach lining is normally well protected against them (unlike your food pipe or throat, or ear or nose for that matter).
You should also cut down on the alcohol and cigarettes (not just for GERD but for your overall health), and avoid a big heavy meal just before you go to bed.
There are homeopathic remedies available for GERD but you usually need to combine them together with overall lifestyle changes. For example, you could also try sleeping on an acid reflux pillow wedge which keeps your body in a more upright position so the gastric acids can't flow upwards, and cut down on acidic foods.
There are medications available such as rabeprazole which may help.
Whatever you do, make sure you do it soon and seek out the advice of a doctor too. If left untreated, gastric problems may lead to stomach cancer, or permanent damage to the vocal chords and other more serious illnesses.