Acid Reflux, Throat Irritation when Reclining, in the Morning

WendiH Asked :

I have been suffering with acid reflux for years and as result I have this persistent sore throat when I wake up in the morning. In the past few months, my heartburn has settled a lot with the chronic medication that my doctor has put me on now but I still seem to have this sore throat upon waking.

It is not as bad as it used to be and it goes away about 5 or 6 hours after waking up. My doctor says the throat irritation is caused by gastric acid sitting at the back of the throat when I am sleeping. I am a bit confused because even if I have a short nap on the recliner, I get this throat irritation. So I am not sleeping flat but it still starts up.

I am a 38 year old female, slightly overweight and suffer with a excessive flatulence but not abnormal belching. The gas gets worse after eating and causes bloating but it settles down after a few hours. At night I pass a lot of gas and I am wondering if this gas is pushing the acid up my food pipe.

This question was posted under the Causes of Bloating and Gas (Flatulence) article.

Any response by the Health Hype team does not constitute a medical consultation and the advice should be viewed purely as a guide. Always consult with your doctor before making any changes to your current treatment program. The information provided in this article is not an authoritative resource on the subject matter and solely intends to guide the reader based on the questions asked and information provided.

Dr. Chris Answered :

Acid reflux is a common cause of throat irritation in the morning and even if you use drugs to reduce the gastric acid secretion, this does not stop all acid production in the stomach. Gastric acid is necessary for the stomach to play its part in digestion. There is still some stomach acid that can travel up the esophagus (food pipe) especially if you have a weak lower esophageal sphincter (LES).

The LES is located at the junction of the stomach and esophagus. It allows food and liquid to enter the stomach from the food pipe but prevents the stomach contents from traveling back up. However, if the LES is “malfunctioning”, which is a common problem, then even the normal quantity of acid in the stomach can travel up towards the throat, especially when you are lying flat. All these processes are part of gastroesophageal disease (GERD).

It is important to remember that throat irritation after sleeping may not be solely due to gastric acid. If you snore, this can also cause the throat irritation after sleeping. This may be the reason why you experience the throat irritation after sleeping even in a recliner, where you are not flat. Snoring is more common in a person who is overweight and causes inflammation of the throat and palate. You may not be aware of your snoring and you should discuss this with your doctor as a possible cause of this throat irritation.

Gas build up in the bowels which results in flatulence usually occurs in the large intestine. It is unlikely that the gas build up here can ‘push’ the stomach acid up the esophagus. Speak to your doctor or consult with a gastroenterologist who will conduct further investigation like an endoscopy. These tests will help your doctor to confirm if your LES is not functioning properly and allowing acid to travel up the esophagus. There is treatment options for this.

It may also be advisable to consult with an otolaryngologist (ENT specialist) as there are a number of other causes of a sore throat.

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