There is a lack of consistent guidelines and consensus for the diagnosis of laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR). A therapeutic trial with a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) has been suggested to identify patients with LPR. This review focuses on the current difficulties in diagnosing the disease and examines the evidence for the effectiveness of PPI therapy in suspected reflux-related laryngeal symptoms. Additionally, mode of action, safety, and tolerability of PPIs are described. A total of 7 placebo-controlled trials were identified and included in the review. All studies evaluated the effect of a PPI on symptoms and objective laryngoscopic findings in suspected LPR. Data from these trials show that PPI therapy is no more effective than placebo in producing symptom relief in patients suspected of LPR. Symptoms, laryngoscopic findings, or abnormal findings on pH monitoring will not predict response to PPI therapy. High placebo response levels suggest a much more complex and multifactorial pathophysiology of LPR than simple acid reflux. Further studies are needed to characterize subgroups of patients with reflux-associated laryngeal symptoms that might benefit from treatment with PPI. Future studies should use validated patient reported outcome measures with endpoints that represent a predefined clinically meaningful change in symptom scores.
Keywords: proton pump inhibitor; laryngopharyngeal reflux.