Reflux laryngitis is associated with chronic hoarseness and symptoms of esophageal irritation such as "heartburn".
Reflux is caused by a weakness in the muscle at the junction of the esophagus (food tube) and the stomach. Normally, this sphincter muscle opens to allow food to go down to the stomach and closes to keep the stomach's contents from coming back up. The backward movement of stomach contents up into the esophagus is called gastroesophageal reflux.
The refluxed stomach acid irritates the lining of the esophagus, larynx and throat. This can lead to erosion of the lining of the esophagus (erosive esophagitis), narrowing of the esophagus (stricture), chronic hoarseness, chronic throat clearing, difficulty swallowing, cough, spasms of the vocal cords and growths on the vocal cords (granulomas). Reflux also increases the risk of cancer of the esophagus and larynx.
Heartburn is the most common symptom of reflux. Other symptoms include non-cardiac chest pain, chronic hoarseness, asthma, or the feeling of a foreign body in the throat (the globus phenomenon).