Objectives: Proton-pump inhibitors are often recommended in the treatment of laryngitis secondary to gastric reflux. Despite prospective treatment studies reporting high efficacy, only one previous report has been placebo-controlled and blinded. The objective of this study was to determine the efficacy of omeprazole in treating proven reflux laryngitis.
Study design: Prospective, placebo-controlled, randomized, double-blind clinical trial.
Methods: Fifty-three patients with one or more reflux laryngitis symptoms were recruited to undergo 24-hour dual-channel pH probe testing. Thirty patients with more than four episodes of laryngopharyngeal reflux were enrolled. By random assignment, 15 patients received 40 mg omeprazole twice a day and the other 15 received placebo for a period of 2 months. Symptoms (hoarseness, throat pain, lump in throat sensation, throat clearing, cough, excessive phlegm, dysphagia, odynophagia, and heartburn) and endoscopic laryngeal signs (erythema, edema, and mucus accumulation) were recorded initially, at 1 month, and 2 months.
Results: In general, most symptom scores improved over time for both the omeprazole and placebo groups. Hoarseness, when patients begin with low hoarseness symptom scores, and throat clearing improved significantly more in patients on omeprazole than in those on placebo during the 2-month study. Throat pain, lump in throat sensation, excessive phlegm, difficulty swallowing, pain with swallowing, and heartburn showed improvement in both treatment arms, signifying the possibility of a placebo effect. Endoscopic laryngeal signs did not change significantly over the course of the study for either treatment group.
Conclusions: A placebo effect appears to exist in the treatment of reflux laryngitis. However, hoarseness, when initially scored low, and throat clearing resulting from reflux laryngitis are effectively treated by omeprazole.