Sore Throat Tips with Acid RefluxPublished on Friday, March 03, 2023 by
If you suffer from GERD or acid reflux, you know the dreaded sore throat all too well.
Your voice may get hoarse, you sound like a car engine that won’t turn over, or even worse it feels like Freddy Krueger is stuck back there using your throat to sharpen his blades.
Reflux laryngitis is a common symptom that impacts GERD sufferers causing inflammation in the throat and vocal cords from gastric acid. One of the constraints of this bitter predicament is trying to figure out what you can eat when your throat feels like it’s on fire.
Don’t worry. I’m here to help you quell the fire in your pharynx.
Some background information about me is that my day-to-day career involves working with patients that are undergoing cancer treatment. One common side effect that impacts this population is mouth sores. You may be asking yourself why I am telling you this. Mouth sore treatment is often very similar to treatment for a sore throat. The same foods that exacerbate sore throats associated with GERD, also do so for cancer patients.
Let’s first start with a discussion about what you shouldn’t eat. Yes, this list involves the usual suspects of fatty foods, highly acidic foods, or spicy foods. Stay away from large meals or laying down right after eating. Foods that have a rough or hard texture that requires excessive amounts of chewing can also pose a problem. Even foods that are highly fibrous; fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, can cause additional irritation due to the inability to break down the fibers or the excessive amount of chewing that needs to occur to get to a point of swallowing. You should also avoid alcohol, whether it be an alcoholic beverage or an ingredient in something such as mouthwash as these can irritate the sensitive lining of your throat.
There are a few factors to consider when you have a sore throat and are trying to figure out what to eat. Whether you prefer a certain temperature or being mindful of a food's texture can make a big difference in palatability (tastiness). One product that I have begun to implement in clinical practice is medical-grade honey, as it tastes good and coats the mucosal lining making it easier to eat.
- Temperature: Do you prefer cold or warm foods or beverages? This is important to determine what will feel more soothing to you. If it is cold then milkshakes may be your best friend, if it is warm then perhaps a nice broth-based soup sounds better. Tea can also offer some very soothing effects.
- Texture: Choosing softer foods that are easier to chew and swallow is a better choice. Low-fat ice cream, smoothies or milkshakes, cottage cheese, or yogurt (lactose-free if needed). You can also try pudding or custard, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, oatmeal or other cooked cereals such as Cream of Rice or Cream of Buckwheat cereal are great choices. Bone broth can give some added protein for soups or you can drink it straight up.
- Tips: You can also try chopping foods into small pieces or mixing them with butter, gravy, or sauce to make them easier to swallow. Of course, since higher-fat foods can trigger reflux in some individuals, these are to be used moderately.
The best defense against GERD-associated sore throat is to identify the trigger foods that cause your reflux and manage the amount of these products that you consume. If the side effects are excessive or painful then it is not worth the little bit of instant gratification you are getting. Life does happen sometimes and we aren’t always as vigilant as we should be. Keep these tips in your back pocket in the event you should find yourself in a painful predicament.
- Reflux laryngitis/laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR) treatment NYC. Mount Sinai Health System. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2023, from https://www.mountsinai.org/locations/grabscheid-voice-swallowing-center/conditions/reflux-laryngitis
- Diet and gerd. Gastrointestinal Society. (2020, July 29). Retrieved February 15, 2023, from https://badgut.org/information-centre/health-nutrition/diet-and-gerd/
- Brands selling gluten-free bone broth. Find Me Gluten Free. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2023, from https://www.findmeglutenfree.com/products/brands/categories/bone-broth
- Hmpgloballearningnetwork.com. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2023, from https://www.hmpgloballearningnetwork.com/site/wounds/rapid-communication/sweet-solution-use-medical-grade-honey-oral-mucositis-pediatric
Kari TallentMA, RD