Although laryngopharyngeal reflux, also known as extraesophageal reflux (EER), was codified more than 25 years ago, it has not been characterized fully. There is no sensitive and specific diagnostic test, and its symptoms often are nonspecific and overlap with those of other conditions commonly seen in primary care and specialist practices. Otolaryngologists have an important role in the evaluation and management of these patients--they must investigate persistent reflux-attributed symptoms by direct visualization of the upper airway and larynx, and, in some circumstances, the esophagus. It is of utmost importance to rule out the possibility of malignancy, which often presents with symptoms similar to those of EER. Once cancer is excluded, many benign upper airway conditions also can masquerade as, and often incorrectly are attributed to, EER. Although reflux is a potential etiologic factor for upper-airway symptoms, it is important not to reflexively blame reflux. We discuss other etiologies that should be considered carefully for persistent symptoms.
Copyright © 2015 AGA Institute. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.