GERD vs LPR – What is the Difference Between Them?

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gerd vs lpr

When comparing GERD and LPR while they are both forms of acid reflux they have important differences. GERD also known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease and LPR also known as Laryngopharyngeal Reflux. While both conditions are correlated they are actually quite different! For people with GERD they tend to experience problems in their chest like heartburn whereas people with LPR usually have problems around their voice-box and throat.

Now let me cover both individually then I will cover the difference between them after to show the clear difference.

GERD vs LPR – Overview

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

GERD is the most common problem with people who have reflux problems. When people eat/drink the valve above the stomach also know as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) relaxes and remains open then the acid from the stomach will reflux and come up and enter the esophagus. Once this happens this acid can cause irritation and general inflammation in the chest area. It’s this irritation which causes most of the symptoms from a person with GERD. The most common symptoms are heartburn and chest pain. For more information on GERD check out – Acid Reflux / GERD – The Ultimate Guide.

Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR)

Just like GERD, LPR is brought on by acid reflux and there are a host of causes which can bring it on but the most common one is the same as it where for GERD with the value directly above the stomach which is meant to keep the acid inside the stomach relaxes too much and doesn’t keep the acid in this stomach as it should.

The difference between LPR and GERD is that someone with LPR will most likely have issues or symptoms in their throat area whereas a GERD patient will not. This can be a sore throat, a burning sensation in the throat, hoarseness and also a host of others. Check out my article on LPR symptoms for everything covered in detail. For more information on LPR check out – my complete guide to LPR.

What is the Difference Between Them?

Someone who has LPR will have symptoms typically in their throat. The is from the acid continuing to reflux fully up the esophagus and into the throat which usually doesn’t happen with a GERD patient. Most GERD patient symptoms will mainly be focused around heartburn and general chest pain.

Whereas an LPR sufferer won’t have the symptoms like heartburn or chest pain usually. This is why LPR is sometimes referred to as silent reflux. This is because the rest of the reflux is “silent” in the sense an LPR sufferer usually won’t have any symptoms like a typical GERD sufferer would.

GERD or LPR – Treatment

There is a clear difference between treatment that is effective for both LPR and GERD. Though typically when it comes to LPR most doctors/practitioners tend to treat it as if it where GERD with anti-acid tablets like PPI’s (proton pump inhibiters) which have been shown to be ineffective at treating LPR in studies. This mistreatment is usually because of lack of information on LPR that doctors have been educated on.

The same PPI’s when taken by a GERD sufferer will usually show a massive benefit and reduction in symptoms. Of course, there are a host of things for both GERD and LPR which can be used to treat the symptoms though I am just pointing out a common solution that clearly only helps one of the two.

If you think maybe you have LPR there is a test you can take called the RSI (Reflux Symptom Index) which can accurately determine you having LPR if you score over a certain amount. I have digitized the reflux test here for you to take.

Also, you can check out my complete LPR guide on LPR causes, symptoms and treatment. You can also check out – Acid Reflux / GERD – The Ultimate Guide.

For GERD treatment there are medicines like I mentioned before that can help, though I would prioritize diet and general lifestyle changes. Here is a good diet for GERD sufferers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is LPR the same as GERD?

No LPR is not the same as GERD. The majority of people who have LPR don’t have GERD symptoms like heartburn. For people who have LPR they have symptoms predominantly around the throat whereas for someone with GERD they have symptoms around the chest with heartburn and indigestion.

What is LPR Reflux?

LPR reflux stands for Laryngopharyngeal Reflux. This is when acid refluxes the whole way up the esophagus and into the throat. This kind of acid reflux primarily affects around the throat with symptoms like sore throat, excess mucus, sinus issues, ear issues etc.

What Does LPR Feel Like?

It doesn’t really have a set feeling but people usually have symptoms with the throat in particular and sometimes things like sinus and ear problems.

How Do You Treat LPR?

The best way to treat LPR is by following a low acid diet. A diet that is tailored towards avoiding foods and drinks below a pH of 5. In terms of medication the best choice is the UK version of Gaviscon Advance which should be taken after meals. For more about Gaviscon Advance check here – Why Gaviscon Advance is the Best Gaviscon.

Is Honey Good for LPR?

Generally when someone has LPR I would advise to avoid honey because it is a little too acidic usually. You can get manuka honey which tends to be more alkaline though this should be taken sparingly when just starting treatment. 

What Causes GERD and LPR?

There are different potential causes for both GERD and LPR. The most common one that overlaps between the 2 is the LES malfunction. LES stands for lower esophageal sphincter which is the valve above the stomach which is meant to prevent the stomach acids from refluxing into the esophagus and throat. Though for someone with these problems it doesn’t function properly and this means acid refluxing up. There are lots of other potential causes like SIBO, IBS, being overweight, pregnancy etc.

What are the Treatment Options?

Usually the best way to treat both of them is by following a low acid diet like the Wipeout Diet. Also check my article on the best LPR Foods to Eat. Generally people with LPR may need to be more strict to the diet to see an improvement whereas for people with GERD simply eliminating the trigger foods will often be enough to stop or lessen symptoms.

What is GERD?

GERD stands for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. This is where acid refluxes up and out of the stomach and into the esophagus. This is where symptoms are usually felt including things like heartburn and indigestion.

What is LPR?

LPR stands for Laryngopharyngeal Reflux. This is where acid refluxes all the way up and into the throat where problems can arise like throat pain, access mucus, lump in throat and many other LPR symptoms.

Who gets GERD or LPR?

There is no set people who get either or problem. Though it’s important to note that diet and lifestyle can play an impact on both and could potentially be the cause. Things like diet and lifestyle can make acid reflux more likely in both cases.

How are GERD and LPR Diagnosed?

Usually GERD can be diagnosed by a doctor or by taking some medical tests like endoscopy or esophageal pH test. LPR can be quite accurately diagnosed using a test called RSI test which is simply based on symptoms. You can take the RSI test here

In terms of a more medical test the best option for someone with LPR is Restech pH study sometimes referred to as Dx-ph test. This is very similar in theory to the traditional and much more common esophageal pH study though the clear difference with this test is it’s much more sensitive to gaseous reflux unlike the standard study which is really best used for diagnosis of GERD. And because LPR is primarily gaseous this is important for detecting the acid.

Lifestyle Changes to Prevent GERD and LPR

There are clear lifestyle changes that are great for both GERD and LPR, let me list some of the most important things to do –

  • Avoid trigger foods like spicy, fatty foods etc.
  • Eat a low acid diet (Wipeout Diet)
  • Don’t overeat
  • Don’t eat soon before bedtime (3 hours)
  • If overweight try to lose weight (particularly around the stomach)

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