Reflux Laryngitis


Damage to the voice box

Reflux can cause changes to the voice. You may notice a baby’s voice & cry becoming hoarse.  Chronic reflux can cause damage to the voice box (Larynx). The vocal cords are located at the top of the airway, and are medically classified as part of the respiratory system. Acid reflux is a condition of the digestive system. So the connection between them may not be immediately clear.
Remember, though, that the mouth and throat are common to both systems; breathing and eating start out in pretty much the same place.  In fact, the larynx (voice box) serves as the switching station, actively separating the airway from the oesophagus. so that the larynx stays open for breathing but closes tightly and even moves out of the way for swallowing, as the esophagus opens.
These mechanics of everyday life show how close the larynx is to the top  muscular valve of the oesophagus. In fact, only a few layers of tissue separate them. This means that even small amounts of stomach acid that sneak back up the oesophagus are apt to spill into the larynx, irritating the back area of the vocal cords.


On a throat exam by a laryngologist, the resulting redness, inflammation, or other tissue changes can be recognised as reflux laryngitis.
The diagnosis may be also be called GORD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease) although this term should specifically mean simply that acid has come up into the oesophagus. If the acid material gets all the way to the larynx, the formal term is (laryngo-pharyngeal reflux) or LPR.

About Author


As well as being one of the founding members of refluxSUPPORT...Jonathan is a Board Member and trustee of Living with Reflux – the only UK Charity for infants with reflux related conditions.He is also a stakeholder in the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) – Gastro-oesophageal reflux in children and young people.He has three daughters of which the eldest is now seventeen. Two suffered from severe reflux.