Silent Reflux or LPR

Silent Reflux or LPR 2017-02-11T19:35:24+00:00

What is Silent Reflux or LPR?

The term REFLUX comes from a Greek word that means “backflow,” and it usually refers to “the back flow of stomach contents.” Normally, when the things we eat reach the stomach, digestion should begin without the contents of the stomach coming back up again….refluxing. Silent Reflux can cause hoarseness, a “lump” in the throat, trouble swallowing, chronic cough, too much throat mucus and heartburn. The term Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR) refers to the backflow of food or stomach acid all of the way back up into the larynx (the voice box) or the pharynx (the throat). LPR can occur during the day or night, even if a person who has LPR hasn’t eaten a thing.


Not everyone with reflux has a lot of heartburn or indigestion. In fact, many people with LPR never have heartburn. This is why LPR is called SILENT REFLUX, and the terms “Silent reflux” and “LPR” are often used interchangeably. Because LPR is silent, it is sometimes difficult to diagnose.

How do I know if I have LPR?

Chronic hoarseness, throat clearing and cough, as well as a feeling of a lump in the throat or difficulty swallowing, may be signs that you have LPR. Some people have hoarseness that comes and goes, and others have a problem with too much nose and throat drainage, that is, too much mucus or phlegm. If you have any of these symptoms, and especially if you smoke, you should contact us about LPR.

If Dr. Lee believes you could potentially have LPR, he will probably perform a throat exam first and look at the voice box and the lower throat. If this area looks swollen and/or red, you probably have LPR. At that point, we may order some tests or recommend specific treatment.

Testing for Silent Reflux or LPR

East Idaho ENT will order tests, this is to be sure about your diagnosis, to make sure you don’t have any complications of LPR, and to help pick the best type of treatment for you.

The two most common tests for LPR are (1) pH monitoring, also called pH-metry, and (2) barium swallow. These two tests are different, and it is common to have both tests done.

The barium swallow is an xray test in which you must swallow chalky material that can be seen on the xrays. This test shows how you swallow and it shows if there is a narrowing or other abnormality of the throat or esophagus. The Baruim test is a great test to evaluate the entire swallowing mechanism.

The pH-Metry test

pH-metry is a special, overnight test that takes about 24 hours to complete. People are not usually admitted to the hospital for this test. pH-metry is used to actually measure acid in your esophagus and throat. Some people say this test is annoying, but it is not painful.

To do this test, you will have a small, soft, flexible tube placed through your nose, which stays in your throat overnight. The tube, called a “pH probe,” is connected to a small computer (a box that you wear around your waist) that measures acid in your esophagus and in your throat. pH-metry is the best test for LPR, and it can help Dr. Lee determine the best treatment for you.

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