All You Need to Know About Gastric Laryngitis
Laryngitis gastrica is an inflammation of the larynx caused by reflux of stomach acid. As a rule, the disease therefore occurs as a symptom of reflux disease. Dietary measures and medicinal proton pump inhibitors are used for treatment.
What is gastric laryngitis?
The main symptom of gastric laryngitis is voice disturbances. Hoarseness is one of the most important changes, but impure, occupied or even toneless vocal sound can also occur. See AbbreviationFinder for abbreviations related to Gastric Laryngitis.
Laryngitis is inflammation in the mucous membranes of the larynx. This inflammation can be acute or chronic. Both children and adults can get sick. Laryngitis is usually either bacterial or viral. In the special form of gastric laryngitis, however, neither bacteria nor viruses are the triggers of the inflammation. Chemical stimuli or vocal stress are also not responsible for the inflamed mucous membranes on the larynx in gastric larygitis. Instead, in this condition, the larynx is attacked by refluxing gastric juice.
This phenomenon is a symptom of reflux disease, so that gastric laryngitis usually occurs as an accompanying symptom in the context of this disease. Reflux disease is a relatively common disease due to eating habits in an affluent society. Approximately 20 percent of Americans are affected by reflux up to the throat. Almost half of them already had gastric laryngitis.
There are sphincters in the esophagus that keep the stomach contents from rising back up into the pharynx by the so-called resting pressure. Only when swallowing is the lower esophageal sphincter relaxed. When this sphincter is damaged, reflux occurs. If the peristalsis is also disturbed, there is an excessively long contact between mucous membranes and gastric acid. This can cause inflammation in the larynx area.
The reasons for this can be of various kinds. The eating and drinking habits of the patients play a role, for example. Spicy foods, fatty foods and coffee are assessed as risk factors for acid reflux disease. A diaphragmatic hernia can also lead to a relaxation of the esophageal sphincter and disturbances in esophageal peristalsis. Diseases with excessive gastric acid production are also possible causes, such as Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. Equally conceivable causes are general muscle weakness, medication or stress.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
The main symptom of gastric laryngitis is voice disturbances. Hoarseness is one of the most important changes, but impure, occupied or even toneless vocal sound can also occur. Laryngitis usually causes pain. This pain ranges from a general sore feeling in the throat to an unbearable scratching. There is usually a permanent urge to cough, with patients primarily reporting a dry cough.
Sometimes there is also a fever. In extreme cases, the mucous membrane of the larynx swells, presses on the trachea and causes shortness of breath. A bitter taste spreads in the mouth due to the stomach acid and heartburn develops. Some patients also complain of globus sensation, which manifests itself in difficulty swallowing while eating and drinking.
These swallowing disorders do not have to actually exist, but can also be due to the subjective feeling of those affected. The reflux symptoms appear particularly at night.
Diagnosis & course of disease
In order to make the diagnosis of gastric laryngitis, a 24-hour pH measurement is usually carried out in addition to an endoscopy and a gastroscopy. The probes used for this have a measuring point in the hypopharynx that records the reflux in the affected region. In a laryngoscopic image, this type of laryngitis manifests itself in hyperplasia of the posterior mucous membranes of the larynx.
The color of the inflamed areas is relatively light and the structure is wrinkled. The gastric juice reduces the resistance of the mucosal barrier. Pollutants penetrate more easily into deep cell layers. Changes in the mucous membrane immune system also set in after some time. Chronic gastric laryngitis can therefore promote laryngeal cancer, for example.
Due to gastric laryngitis, those affected primarily suffer from hoarseness. This is not associated with the flu or a cold and usually remains permanent. Furthermore, the voice of the patient can also change, and they often also suffer from pain. This pain can also spread to other parts of the body.
Coughing also usually occurs and further reduces the sufferer’s quality of life. Due to the inflammation, patients continue to suffer from fever and, in the worst case, shortness of breath. Not infrequently, the shortness of breath can lead to a loss of consciousness, in which those affected can also injure themselves. As a rule, gastric laryngitis also leads to heartburn and also to difficulty swallowing.
Normal intake of liquids and food is no longer possible for those affected, so that in many cases there are deficiency symptoms or malnutrition. Gastric laryngitis can be treated with medication. As a rule, however, treatment of the underlying disease is also necessary so that the symptoms do not recur. There are usually no complications during treatment. However, patients are also dependent on a strict diet.
When should you go to the doctor?
If you suspect a laryngitis, you should always consult a doctor. Anyone who suddenly notices hoarseness or pain in the throat should at best consult their family doctor directly. If gastric laryngitis is treated early, the symptoms usually subside quickly. Medical advice must be sought at the latest when the voice disorders and pain are accompanied by fever. Severe heartburn, shortness of breath and dysphagia are further warning signs that need to be clarified.
People who eat an unhealthy diet or suffer from a condition associated with excessive stomach acid production are particularly at risk. If the symptoms occur in connection with taking medication, it is best to inform the responsible doctor. If stress is suspected to be the cause, a therapist should also be consulted. Other contact points for people with gastric laryngitis are the gastroenterologist or an ear, nose and throat doctor. Children with hoarseness and pain when swallowing should first be presented to the pediatrician. Laryngitis requires careful monitoring during recovery.
Treatment & Therapy
The treatment of gastric laryngitis depends on the causes and the severity of the findings. A change in diet can sometimes make sense. Giving up nicotine can also be worthwhile, as nicotine stimulates gastric juice production. That being said, patients are often advised to eat several small meals throughout the day. Hard-to-digest meals just before bedtime are eliminated from the menu.
Weight reduction is also recommended for overweight patients. If voice disorders are present, voice therapy is also recommended after the mucosal appearance has improved. Therapy with proton pump inhibitors is the treatment of choice for drug treatment. These drugs are designed to inhibit the formation of stomach acid. Drug administration is often carried out on an experimental basis and without further diagnostics on the basis of the anamnesis. However, this approach is now heavily criticized.
In the event of alarm signals, for example, no drug therapy should take place. The most important alarm signals include anemia and growths in the esophagus. Only in rare cases is surgery suggested as the primary treatment for gastric laryngitis. This procedure is also known as a fundoplication and is a minimally invasive procedure to restore the closure function in the esophagus.
Outlook & Forecast
Normally, inflammation of the larynx has a favorable prognosis. The disease is treated with medication. Under optimal conditions, you will be free of symptoms within a few weeks. In the case of acute gastric laryngitis in particular, medical care should be sought in order to improve health as quickly as possible.
In addition, the disease can become chronic. This is usually the case if the person concerned is also overweight or has problems eating. In these cases, therapies should be used that work towards a targeted improvement in lifestyle. The cause of the complaints is explained and training sessions are carried out that the person concerned can implement independently outside of the therapy time. The prognosis is also favorable for these courses of the disease, since freedom from symptoms can be achieved with the cooperation of the patient.
If growths are noticed in the esophagus, surgery is necessary to improve general health. The tissue changes must be removed so that there are no symptoms. The operation is associated with risks and side effects. Nevertheless, in a large number of cases it is a routine procedure that proceeds without further complications. In most cases, the patient is discharged from treatment as recovered after the wound has healed.
Gastric laryngitis can be prevented by eating appropriately and avoiding alcohol and nicotine. Reducing obesity can also be interpreted as a preventive measure.
Since gastric layryngitis is caused by the reflux of gastric acid into the larynx area, it is important to ensure that this is prevented in the best possible way during aftercare. This requires a change in diet by the patient and thus their active cooperation.
The portions for meals should be smaller in this context. It is better to eat small meals more often than a few large ones is the motto, which also serves the digestive tract. In addition, sour, sweet and spicy foods tend to stimulate gastric acid production and should therefore also be reduced.
Alcohol and nicotine can also promote reflux and should be significantly reduced or avoided altogether in order to achieve a targeted reduction in acid production. In addition, nicotine should be avoided anyway for the stressed larynx area in the aftercare of gastric laryngitis. The regeneration can be significantly optimized.
In the case of reflux, the sleeping posture is also of particular importance in the case of gastric laryngitis. In order to prevent stomach acid from flowing back into the sensitive areas of the larynx and pharynx, it is advisable to sleep in an elevated sleeping position with the upper body. In addition, sumptuous meals before going to bed are unfavorable and should therefore be avoided at all costs. Stress can also promote reflux and should be consistently reduced.
You can do that yourself
If gastric laryngitis has been diagnosed, the patient should primarily change their diet. It is recommended to eat several small meals and to remove hard-to-digest foods from the diet. Regular fluid intake is just as important so that the mucous membranes are always well moistened and the viruses can be flushed out quickly. In addition, stimulants such as nicotine, alcohol and caffeine must be avoided, as these further irritate the stomach and throat and stimulate gastric juice production. Overweight people need to lose weight over the long term.
In principle, the voice should be spared in the case of laryngitis. Warm drinks relieve the pain and promote blood circulation. Neck wraps have a similar effect and can be combined with eucalyptus ointment, essential oils and other natural remedies. Inhaling saline solutions and remedies such as sage or marshmallow is also helpful. A room humidifier regulates the air and thus supports the recovery process.
After the acute phase of the disease, the immune system must be strengthened, be it through exercise in the fresh air, a diet rich in vitamins or a lot of sleep and bed rest. If the symptoms of gastric laryngitis do not subside, an ENT doctor should be consulted.