Gluten Sensitivity Underlying Resistant "Laryngopharyngeal Reflux" Symptoms and Signs.

Document Type


Publication Date



INTRODUCTION: Laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR) is one of the most common conditions encountered in otolaryngology. Gluten sensitivity may mimic the signs and symptoms of LPR or act as an aggravating cofactor with LPR. Gluten sensitivity and food intolerance also have been implicated as conditions that may be associated specifically with LPR symptoms and signs resistant to traditional medical treatment. Medical management of LPR may be insufficient to control symptoms and laryngeal signs of reflux, constituting resistant LPR. Eliminating gluten from the diet could provide symptomatic relief to patients with gluten sensitivity and LPR that is not controlled adequately by current regimens. The purpose of our study was to investigate the relationship between gluten sensitivity and LPR. We aimed to evaluate reflux finding score (RFS) improvement following elimination of gluten from the diet in patients with resistant LPR who had positive blood tests associated with gluten sensitivity. Symptom improvement was also assessed following dietary gluten elimination. Lastly, we aimed to identify predictors for a positive response to a gluten-free diet.

METHODS: Adult patients who underwent gluten sensitivity testing for treatment-resistant LPR symptoms and/or signs were included. Patients with ≥1 positive test were advised to begin a therapeutic trial of a gluten-free diet. Subjects who chose not to trial a gluten-free diet or tested negative for gluten sensitivity markers served as controls. RFS was the primary outcome measure.

RESULTS: One hundred ninety-seven patients were included; 81 trialed a gluten-free diet. Subjects who trialed the gluten-free diet were significantly more likely to demonstrate objective improvement in RFS (77.14% vs 43.88%), and report subjective improvement (55.41% vs 25.77%) than those who did not. RFS had decreased significantly from baseline at 1-3, 3-6, 6-12, and >12-month interval follow-up examinations in subjects who trialed a gluten-free diet. Comparison between subjects who trialed the gluten-free diet, tested positive for a gluten sensitivity marker but did not trial the gluten-free diet, and subjects who were negative for all gluten sensitivity markers revealed that a gluten-free diet was associated with a significantly greater percent improvement in RFS compared to controls at 1-3, 6-12, and >12-months.

CONCLUSION: Gluten sensitivity can mimic or aggravate LPR. A gluten-free diet should be considered for patients with resistant LPR, especially if blood test abnormalities that suggest gluten sensitivity are identified. The diet should be maintained for a minimum of three months to demonstrate objective improvement using RFS.


This article was published in Journal of Voice.

The published version is available at

Copyright © 2023 The Voice Foundation. Published by Elsevier Inc.

Publication Title

Journal of Voice

PubMed ID


This document is currently not available here.