A burning sensation in the throat can be caused by several conditions but heart burn, or reflux disease commonly known as GERD is one of the major causes. A burning throat is when the throat experiences irritation, inflammation and swelling in the esophagus. The esophagus is the passageway from the throat down to the upper end of the stomach. When it becomes inflamed it can be painful and often unbearable.
Causes of Burning Throat
The esophagus is an important part of the digestive system since when a person eats or drinks this muscular passageway is the first entry into the stomach. The esophagus starts at the throat and is located behind the trachea and in front of the spine. The esophagus passes down to the sphincter which is the opening that empties any food and liquid into the upper part of the stomach.
The sphincter at the top end of the esophagus stays closed until a person swallows, and then it opens to allow the food and drink to pass through. Food and liquids are squeezed through the esophagus by the contracting muscles and the production of mucus to help the food pass through. Once the food gets to the top of the stomach, the lower sphincter opens and the digested liquids pass into the stomach.
There are times when the sphincter at the top of the esophagus will open even when no food or liquid is present which will let stomach acids enter the esophagus. In mild cases this is referred to as heartburn. But sometimes the condition occurs often and creates the sensation of constant burning in the chest and throat. If it happens constantly it is called gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. If GERD is left untreated it can damage the esophagus.
Symptoms of Acid Reflux
Many people will experience the sensation of burning throat more in the morning, as the stomach acids have built-up over night when the person is laying down. If there are drool marks on the pillow upon awakening that is often a sign of acid reflux. The drool occurs when the throat produces excess saliva because it wants to prevent the acids from entering the throat area.
Some people will feel as if they need to vomit when they arise in the morning because of the sour taste in their throat. If they do happen to vomit and only dark green fluids are expelled it is also an indication of a problem with stomach acids developing. Other indications of acid reflux can include:
•a cough that is persistent
•throat inflammation or scratchy feeling throat
•pain in mouth for no apparent reason
•sour taste in mouth
If these conditions persist it is recommended to contact the family doctor to rule out other conditions. A burning throat from acid reflux can be incorrectly associated with allergies or other conditions so a doctor should diagnose the problem. A person could even experience a change in their voice.
Understanding Burning Throat from Acid Reflux
When the acids in the stomach back up into the throat it causes a burning sensation. If the acid continues to back up into the throat and mouth it can even begin to rot the teeth in severe cases. It is important to control the flow of acid from the stomach into the esophagus.
Some people with GERD can develop Barrett’s esophagus which is when the cells in the lower esophagus actually begin to change and resemble the cells that are in the stomach. These cells handle the acids from the stomach better, but can sometimes turn into cancerous cells. It is better to prevent this condition from happening, even though it could provide relief.
Treating Burning Throat
The best way to eliminate the burning throat sensation is to cure or treat the GERD. Many people take over-the-counter antacids to help with the acid, but taking them over a period of time can cause other problems.
One way to help reduce the buildup of acids is by changing diet and lifestyle. Many people think that drinking milk will neutralize the acids in the stomach, but milk should actually be avoided, especially before going to sleep because milk is very heavy and contains acids. Drinking fluids throughout the day to help keep the throat from getting dry and irritated will help. Liquids that will neutralize acids include tea with honey, plain water and fruit juice. The throat muscles can be relaxed by drinking warm water with a little salt.
Monitoring the intake of calories can also be beneficial in keeping acids from backing up into the throat. Caffeine, garlic and alcohol should be avoided, along with fried foods and citrus foods such as tomatoes. Restricting calories can also result in weight loss, which will help GERD if a person is overweight.
Other lifestyle changes include never going to bed right after eating. Wait at least two or three hours after eating to let the food in the stomach digest completely and acids to decrease before lying down. Eating five or six small meals throughout the day instead of three large meals can help prevent the buildup of acids in the stomach. Eating slowing will help keep GERD from developing.
Monitor foods that tend to trigger heartburn and try and avoid those foods. Sometimes spicy foods, peppers, chocolate, onions, alcohol, citrus fruits, fatty foods and even peppermint can result in bad heartburn. Keep a diary of food triggers so that they can be avoided. Even smoking has been related to GERD.
A natural way to treat burning throat associated with GERDS is to use a vaporizer to keep the air moist and ensure easy breathing. Dry air will irritate the throat. Taking cough or throat lozenges can also provide temporary relief from the burning feeling.
Exercise is another lifestyle change that can help prevent GERD attacks. Daily exercise of 30-minutes either walking, swimming, cycling or aerobics will help get the body in good physical shape. Anyone who has not participated in an exercise routine should consult with their doctor before starting.
For those people who find that their heartburn gets worse when they lie down, raising the head of the bed so that the head is higher than the chest may help. Placing blocks under the bottom of the headboard can accomplish this. It is not recommended that a person use lots of pillows to raise the head, as this could result in neck strain and creating an angle that could put extra pressure on the stomach and increase the heartburn.
Drinking more water will often help dilute stomach acids in the stomach. This will also keep the throat moist.
Eating foods that help increase the production of saliva are often recommended, such as hard candies. The saliva helps to keep the acids away from the throat and in the stomach. Cabbage is another food recommended by many doctors as it can speed up the digestion of foods.
If diet and lifestyle changes do not work to ease heartburn and burning throat, doctors may prescribe proton pump inhibitors which are medications that will work to keep stomach acids under control. Proton pump inhibitors block acids from forming in the stomach.
H2 blockers may be prescribed for people who require prescription medication for GERDS. H2 blockers block the production of acid cells in the stomach. The difference between proton pump inhibitors and H2 blockers is that proton pump inhibitors do not work as immediately as H2 blockers, but they work for up to 24 hours while H2 blockers work for only 12 hours.
Managing Burning Throat
If the burning throat lasts longer than a few days it is important to consult a doctor to determine the best way to detect and handle GERD. The doctor will often prescribe heartburn medication, and if that works to relieve the symptoms then they will know that the burning throat is being caused by GERDS. The doctor can also perform an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy to diagnose GERD. The doctor will use an optic tube that the patient swallows into the gastrointestinal tract so that the esophagus, stomach and duodenum can be seen. If the lining of the esophagus is inflamed it makes the diagnosis of GERD easier.
Most doctors will use esophageal acid testing to diagnose GERD. People who have GERDs actually produce more acids than those who do not have the condition. A pH test can determine the levels of esophagus acids by using a catheter that is passed down the nose into the esophagus. This test takes about 24 hours to complete but is an accurate way to diagnose the condition.
It cannot be determined why one person will develop GERD and burning throat sensations and another person will not. Weight, diet, lifestyle and genetics are often considerations when diagnosing severe heartburn. It is recommended that natural modalities of treating GERDS should be the first step in controlling the condition.
Prescription medications or surgery may be indicated for very severe conditions that do not respond to natural remedies, but should be considered a last resort to solving the problem. There are several medications available, but they all have side-effects associated with them, even the over-the-counter medications.
For a comprehensive overview of acid reflux and GERD, Reflux Remedy www.reflexremedy.com is an excellent resource. Information on causes of acid reflux, diets, natural cures, cures and remedies are available in one comprehensive website. It provides information that can help a person suffering from burning throat manage their condition. GERDs can be managed with the right information and resources that help people effectively cope with the condition. Contact Reflux Remedy today.