Fiberoptic laryngoscopic examinations were performed on 40 patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease, 25 of whom had persistent laryngeal symptoms (dysphonia, cough, globus sensation, frequent throat clearing, or sore throat) and 15 without laryngeal symptoms who served as disease controls. Ten patients with laryngeal symptoms but none of the controls had laryngoscopic findings consistent with reflux laryngitis. Dual-site ambulatory pH recordings were obtained with the pH electrodes spaced 15 cm apart and with the proximal sensor positioned just distal to the upper esophageal sphincter. Patients in the three groups (disease controls: group 1; patients with symptoms but without laryngoscopic findings: group 2; and patients with both laryngeal symptoms and findings: group 3) were comparable in terms of age, smoking habit, the presence of esophagitis, and distal esophageal acid exposure. Proximal esophageal acid exposure was, however, significantly increased in groups 2 and 3, and nocturnal proximal esophageal acidification occurred in over half of these patients but in none of the group 1 patients. We conclude that the subset of reflux patients who experience laryngeal symptoms show significantly more proximal esophageal acid exposure (especially nocturnally) and often have laryngoscopic findings of posterior laryngitis not observed in control reflux patients.
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