Yesterday, at our Thanksgiving Day celebration, one of our family members was noticeably fighting a bout with the common cold-or so it appeared. His demonstrable symptoms included a chronic cough and nasal-throat congestion. He also complained of an unrelenting lump (or blockage) in his throat as well as a persistent post-nasal drip. He was flummoxed, however, because he was not experiencing the other typical symptoms of a cold; no aches, fatigue, fever nor sneezing. As we later discovered, he was not at all suffering from the common cold, but rather Laryngopharyngeal reflux-more commonly known by the acronym, LPR.
Intrigued by his limited symptoms and motivated to lessen his misery, I conducted a Google search– “cough ‘lump in throat’ ‘throat clearing’ ‘post-nasal drip’.” The fifth search result-a health board– yielded an interesting testimonial from a poster about LPR. She wrote, in material part:
“You may have heard of GERD…. GERD is the best-known form of acid reflux. It stands for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. The big symptom that everyone has heard of is heartburn. … Well there is a 2nd form of acid reflux called ‘LPR’ …. Most LPR patients don’t get heartburn-instead they complain of 1 or more of the following ‘chronic throat clearing’, ‘constant cough’, sinusitis-like symptoms, ‘lump-in-throat’ sensation.” (emphasis supplied)
Buoyed by this testimonial, I conducted a search for LPR and discovered that it is indeed an insidious condition-“no one would ever think that they are suffering from acid reflux without any symptoms of heartburn or indigestion,” I thought. One of the more authoritative articles that I found about LRR was published by the Center for Voice and Swallowing at the UC-Davis Health System. The article reads in pertinent part:
” LPR is different than gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Patients with GERD … typically suffer from heartburn …. Although some persons with LPR do suffer from heartburn … (12%), most persons with LPR do not. The reason for this is that the refluxate spends very little time in the esophagus and does most of its damage in the larynx. … Symptoms … include …[e]xcessive throat clearing, [c]opious amounts of … phlegm, [f]eeling of a lump in your throat …chronic cough.” The article continues: “Medical therapy for LPR includes nonprescription antacids and H2 antagonists such as Maalox, Mylanta, Pepcid and Zantac. … Although these medications are often effective at treating GERD, they are often ineffective at treating LPR. Proton pump inhibitors (Prilosec, Prevacid, Aciphex, Protonix, Nexium) are more potent medications….”
After reading the above-quoted language, I returned to the family room and asked if anyone had “antacids or PPIs like Nexium or Prilosec.” My mother responded and offered several samples of Prilosec. I turned to our family member and explained to him the findings of my LPR research. Within less than ten minutes after treating with Prilosec, his chronic cough, lump in the throat, and post-nasal drip abated and today he advises that those symptoms are altogether gone.
“Environmental Disorders Message Board,” Health Boards
“Laryngopharyngeal reflux,” Center for Voice and Swallowing-UC Davis Health System