Stomach Ulcers with a Sore Throat
If you have ever been diagnosed with stomach ulcers and recently started experiencing a sore throat, it may be because of the acids that caused the ulcers.
Stomach acids belong in the stomach. That’s why the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) sits at the base of the throat (to create a barrier that keeps stomach acids where they belong).
However, if you have stomach ulcers because of an over production of stomach acids or an H pylori infection that caused your stomach lining to swell, you could be experiencing a sore throat caused by stomach acids are making it past that LES barrier.
Stomach ulcers caused by H pylori occur because when the lining of the stomach swells (gastritis), the glands that secrete stomach acids are stimulated to produce a lot of acid that your stomach doesn’t really need. Over time, these acids become very concentrated and eat away at the lining of the stomach and reduce the protective barrier between the acid and the soft tissue beneath.
The raw spot that forms where this lining has been compromised becomes the stomach ulcer and produces the stomach ulcer symptoms. More often, ulcers actually form in the duodenum and pyloric channel just beneath the stomach.
How H pylori Causes Stomach Ulcers and Sore Throat
The overproduction of acids that causes stomach ulcers also attacks that round muscle at the base of the throat, the LES. Normally, this muscle is strong and constricts tightly to block acids from reaching the inside of the esophagus. But after repeated exposure to acids, the LES forced to work extra hard to keep the acids at bay.
Additionally, gastric pressure increases at the H pylori cause the stomach lining to swell. This puts even more pressure on the LES and forces it open more often. Each time this happens, acid is able to wash into to esophagus and cause damage.
Finally, the LES can become distorted when the stomach swells, stretching out so that it cannot close properly. When combined with increased gastric pressure and a weakened LES muscle, the esophagus becomes exposed to repeated contact with caustic stomach acids.
What Does All of this Have to Do with a Sore Throat?
At first, stomach acid entering the esophagus is experienced as heartburn. But as symptoms related to the over production of stomach acids get worse, sore throat can occur.
A sore throat can be caused by constant exposure to stomach acids that rise higher into the esophagus (especially when you are lying down). It can also be the result of regurgitation, where stomach acids make their way all the way up the esophagus and into the mouth. This is the most common reason for sore throat in people with severe acid reflux.
How Bad Can Sore Throat and Stomach Ulcers Get?
Most irritation in the throat that relates to stomach ulcers is due to regurgitation of stomach acids. As long as steps are taken to treat the problem of too much acid, the sore throat should be temporary. However, it is still a good idea to check with a doctor if you know you have a history of stomach ulcers because long-term exposure to acids can spell serious trouble for the esophagus.
The acids that cause stomach ulcers can cause significant scarring in the esophagus if the LES begins to fail. Esophagitis, a condition in which the throat swells because of scarring and damage from acids, can cause significant pain. In addition to a severe sore throat, esophagitis can make it hard to swallow and make you feel as if there is always something stuck in your throat.
Treatment for esophagitis and sore throat pain is not an ideal option and involves a device that stretches the tube to increase its diameter. It is definitively preferable to control acid at the first sign of sore throat and prevent significant scarring.
Barrett’s esophagus is another condition that causes throat pain. Cells in the throat can mutate because of repeated exposure to stomach acids. When stomach acids rise higher into the esophagus, so do the new cells types that are not normally found in the throat. And though it is rare, throat cancer can develop in the future.
More commonly, however, the worst case scenario for stomach ulcers and sore throat is that it can be an indication that a new ulcer has formed in or very near to the esophagus. This can be very painful. When the throat is afflicted with an ulcer, there is a burning pain that is different than the pain felt in stomach ulcers. With both types of ulcers happening simultaneously, it may be difficult to eat a healthy diet.