Does Having GERD Mean You Will Get Throat Ulcers?
Does acid reflux lead to ulcers in the throat? Ulcerations in your esophagus, or throat, is one possible complication of acid reflux disease and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It is important to understand how untreated reflux disease can affect your throat health, and what you can do about it.
What is Acid Reflux?
As you eat, food goes down the esophagus into the stomach. Between the two is a valve that keeps the digestive acid from pushing up into the throat. For people with acid reflux disease, this valve fails to close fully. GERD is the chronic form of acid reflux disease. Having GERD can lead to throat damage and ulcerations.
What is a Throat Ulcer?
An ulcer is an open sore that has trouble healing, and in your throat, it is sometimes caused by acid from the stomach burning the tissue of the esophagus. While occasional acid reflux may do some damage, since the attacks don’t happen often, it heals relatively quickly. With GERD, acid reflux is a common occurrence, so there is no time for complete healing. That is how a throat ulcer forms.
You may also get throat ulcers that are unrelated to acid reflux – usually due to an infection. In this case, acid reflux will aggravate the condition and prevent healing.
What to Do About Throat Ulcers?
Throat ulcers are potentially life-threatening, so it is critical to get treatment for them. An ulcer can swell and close the throat, making it difficult to breathe. Your doctor will want to deal with the underlying condition causing the ulcer, as well as treat the open wound. For many patients, that will mean finding ways to manage acid reflux.
It will start with lifestyle changes. What you eat is a primary concern. Certain foods tend to trigger an episode.
- Fatty foods
- Fried foods
- Acidic foods like tomato sauce
Other foods help prevent acid reflux. When choosing fruits, you should pick bananas and melons instead of oranges, for example. Bulky foods that help absorb stomach acid are good choices, as well.
- Whole grain breads
Meat selections should be lean and baked or grilled – not fried.
For serious and hard to control GERD, the doctor may recommend reflux surgery, or fundoplication. This strengthens the valve that keeps acid in the stomach where it belongs, so it will not cause further damage to the throat.