Acid reflux is a disorder in which the sphincter at the top of the stomach is unable to effectively stop stomach acid from re-entering the oesophagus i.e. the tube that connects the throat with the stomach. Because of this the throat can become sore and a cough can develop. This acid reflux symptom is often mistaken for a cold or the flu however the symptoms tend to persist even with cold treatments.
Occasionally the acid reflux symptom of a sore throat can cause you to lose your voice completely. In addition they may suffer with a burning sensation in the oesophagus as food passes along it and stomach pains and upsets. In severe cases the stomach acid can travel far enough up the oesophagus so that it reaches the junction that leads to the lungs. This can then result in small amounts of acid entering the lungs and causing a cough and general irritation.
When the throat becomes affected you will often notice a change in their voice. This is a common acid reflux symptom and if persistent, it can cause shortness of breath and permanent damage to the vocal chords. Changes in the voice can include a loss of volume, a deepening of the tone or hoarseness. This is potentially a very serious acid reflux symptom and if left untreated can result in a permanent loss of the voice.
In addition to the throat and the vocal chords the lungs and trachea (the tubes leading to the lungs) can also become damaged and this can also be serious if left untreated. The trachea is lined with millions of tiny hair-like structures that trap particles of dust and food before they reach the lungs. Acid unfortunately kills these tiny hairs so that the lungs become vulnerable to infections, which are also a common acid reflux symptom in severe cases.
It is easy to treat acid reflux however and a simple change in diet can have profound effects. Abstaining from foods that are acidic in nature is a great first step, however the doctor will be able to provide a patient with a list of what should and should not be eaten. The objective is to reduce the amount of acid produced by the stomach and so foods that stimulate the stomach are deemed to bad for those people with any acid reflux symptom. Unfortunately this also means that most alcoholic drinks also need to be left alone.
In long-term cases the throat and vocal chords can become damaged to the point that surgery is required. Small polyps are a common acid reflux symptom and they continue to grow until they begin to affect the ability to swallow. They can also become cancerous if left.
There is no known cure for acid reflux. However, the good news is that it is possible to treat it with a sensible diet and specific medications. With the first signs of a hoarse voice, do consult with a doctor immediately. Hesitating too long to get treatment for your acid reflux symptoms may just cost you your voice.