How to Heal Throat Ulcers From Acid Reflux

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Throat ulcers from acid reflux actually occur down in the esophagus near the stomach, where they can cause chronic scarring. Learn how to heal these ulcers with proton pump inhibitors and other drugs in this free video on living with acid reflux.

Part of the Video Series: Living with Acid Reflux
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Video Transcript

Hi. I'm Doctor David Hill, and today we're going to talk about how to heal ulcers in the throat from acid reflux. Now, we want to define a couple of things; most importantly, what is the throat. When you're talking about throat ulcers from acid reflux, really you're talking about ulcers way down in the esophagus. When most people talk about throat, they're really discussing the back of their own mouth. If you have ulcers back there, it's not safe to think that that's from stomach acid. Those ulcers are more likely caused by an infection, usually a viral infection such as coxsackie virus or herpes virus. They can be intensely painful. They do feel a little bit better if you take an antacid like Mylanta or Tums. Although, not because of the stomach acid but because those medicines seem to coat the back of the throat and keep it from feeling so bad while it's healing on its own. Much more dangerous are ulcers caused down in the esophagus by the stomach acid. Now, these aren't felt way up here. They're way down close to the stomach. But they can be deadly. The best thing that they can do, if allowed to progress without treatment, is to cause scarring. I say, best; that's not a very good thing. Because that scarring may make it very difficult to swallow, and it may be quite difficult to treat that scarring. You may have scarring problems for the rest of your life, be confined to a pureed or liquid diet. That's a bad thing. But, it pales in comparison to the worst case scenario, which is the development of esophageal cancer. Chronic ulceration of the esophagus is a condition called Barrett's esophagus. Barrett's esophagus is a precancerous condition. It can only be diagnosed when a gastroenterologist puts an endoscope down the mouth, into the stomach, usually under sedation, so that he or she cabn look around inside the esophagus and take tissue samples to send to the lab, to see if Barrett's esophagus is present. Now, if that type of ulcer is present, You're going to need some long term acid suppression; usually with a class of medication that's called a proton pump inhibitor. These are the strongest acid suppressing medications that we have. They actually keep the stomach acid secreting cells inside the stomach from making antacid. There are several different version of proton pump inhibitors. One over the counter, that's very effective and very popular is Omeprazole Prilosec. However, these medications come in several different formulations. And some people respond better than one to another. So, your doctor may choose to switch or try something different if the one that you start with does not seem to be working. If you do have this sort of ulceration, you're going to want to be followed by a gastroenterologist, a stomach and intestine specialist who can make sure over time that those ulcerations heal and do not lead to scarring, Barrett's esophagus or cancer. Talking about healing ulcers in the throat, due to acid reflux, I'm Doctor David Hill.

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