The many names of one problem
Condition that we will be discussing here is known by several names. It is known as the acid reflux, gastroesophageal reflux, or the laryngopharyngeal reflux. However, it all comes down to the same, as all this names indicate the condition in which the acidic stomach content travels upwards (or refluxes) into the upper parts of the digestive tract and causes various problems.
The anatomy of the problem
A channel known as the esophagus leads from our mouth to the stomach. At first, both air destined for the lungs and food and water destined for the stomach travel along the same route, down the throat and to pharynx, where the channels split into the windpipe and into the esophagus. Here is where the first sphincter muscle is. A sphincter muscle is a circular muscle that surrounds certain channels or passages in our body and permits or blocks passage of matter. In example, sphincter muscles control the flow of urine, intake of food, or retention of accumulated feces. Immediately next to the pharynx is the larynx, where the vocal cords are. When we are not swallowing anything (meaning that we are just breathing), the upper sphincter muscle of the esophagus is closed, and air is diverted into the lungs, while nothing goes to the stomach. When we swallow, the sphincter muscle relaxes and swallowed content enters the esophagus and travels to the stomach.
Another sphincter muscle lies at the end of the esophagus and seals it off from the stomach. Its role is to prevent the stomach content, stomach acid and semi-digested food, to flow back in the esophagus.
If, for some reason, this sphincter muscle fails to seal the stomach off, the acidic content can enter the esophagus. This is the gastroesophageal reflux. If the first sphincter muscle also fails to operate properly, the acidic content can reach all the way up to the throat. This is the laryngopharyngeal reflux. Stomach acid can then irritate both the esophagus, the throat, and the larynx.
Symptoms of acid reflux are caused by irritation of the tissue by the stomach acid. These include irritation of the throat, pain and burning sensation in the esophagus (heartburn), constant coughing in order to clear the throat or chronic cough, problems with vocal chords and similar.
Acid reflux is best treated by avoiding what triggers it. This means that you should avoid late meals, spicy or greasy food, and that you should ,if you are, like most people, troubled by heartburn while in bed, sleep in a slightly upright position, to prevent gravitational flow of stomach content towards the throat.