ENT manifestations of gastroesophageal reflux

Am J Gastroenterol. 2000 Aug;95(8 Suppl):S15-22. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9270(00)01074-1.


Reflux laryngitis is a common disease and is probably only one of several laryngeal manifestations associated with GERD. The hypothesis that GER causes laryngeal symptoms and conditions remains to be definitively proved. In many patients, the cause of laryngeal symptoms may well be multifactorial, and to identify definitively those patients in which GER may be playing a role remains a challenge. Documentation of GER using 24-h pH monitoring may assist in identifying such patients. Pharyngeal pH probe monitoring, although not without limitations, may be the optimal method to evaluate such patients in terms of documenting the presence of EPR. A suggested algorithm based on the available data in evaluating and treating patients with suspected reflux laryngitis is shown in Figure 5. First, rule out other causes of hoarseness and laryngitis. An ENT consultation is appropriate for hoarseness present >4 wk. Second, empirically treat with PPIs b.i.d. for 2-3 months, as esophageal and pharyngeal pH monitoring is costly, not readily available, time consuming, and not sensitive in making the diagnosis of GERD related laryngitis. If the patient improves after 2-3 months, therapy should be stopped and the patient observed. If symptoms recur, reinstitution of the PPI at the lowest possible dose or with use of an H2RA to maintain remission should be initiated. Third, if no improvement is noted, the patient should undergo 24-h pH monitoring with an esophageal and, if possible, a pharyngeal probe if the diagnoses of GERD and EPR are still in question. In patients in whom there is a high suspicion for GERD, pH monitoring should be performed on PPI therapy to determine whether acid suppression is adequate. A pH probe should be placed in the stomach if the question to be answered is whether 1) the PPI regimen is maintaining a pH of >4, or 2) if the addition of a bedtime H2RA maintains nocturnal intragastric pH of >4 (52-56). Patients with a completely normal pH study who are on no medications should be referred back to the ENT physician for further evaluation, as other risk factors for chronic laryngitis such as voice overuse may benefit from concomitant voice therapy. If upright reflux is the predominant reflux pattern, increasing the b.i.d. PPI dose is reasonable; but if nighttime supine reflux is predominant, recent literature suggests that the addition of a bedtime H2RA will suppress nocturnal acid breakthrough. There are, however, no long-term studies with the PPI plus H2RA regimen that document persistent nocturnal acid suppression and that show clinically significant differences in patients with nocturnal acid breakthrough. Surgery should be cautiously considered for patients who are unresponsive to PPI therapy and who have documented or undocumented evidence of GERD or EPR. The body of experience concerning GERD and the extraesophageal manifestations of GERD suggests that patients who do not respond to adequate PPI acid suppression will do poorly after antireflux surgery.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / complications*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Laryngeal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Laryngeal Diseases / epidemiology
  • Laryngeal Diseases / etiology
  • Laryngeal Diseases / physiopathology
  • Otorhinolaryngologic Diseases / diagnosis
  • Otorhinolaryngologic Diseases / etiology*
  • Otorhinolaryngologic Diseases / physiopathology