The Trouble With Treatment & Timelines

I battled with LPR for almost a year before I really started to make inroads with the treatments I was trying. It was often discouraging, as I really struggled to understand what was working and what wasn’t. I kept abandoning treatments, and revisiting treatments, feeling unsure about what was helping. Sometimes a treatment that I thought was failing turned out to be helpful. Sometimes the opposite happened.

Looking back now, I realise that the problem wasn’t my treatments, but rather the timelines. In fact, it was the timelines that were making it difficult to understand what was happening. The internet is littered with ideas on how to treat LPR, as well as many other conditions. I think that part of the confusion comes from people not being certain what to attribute their healing to.

If you suffer from LPR, I think you can save a lot of time by thinking about the interplay between treatment and timelines. Here are some specific guidelines that might help you.

Hourglass being thrown

You need to give your treatment sufficient time to work

Whether they’re chemical, natural, herbal, behavioural or even controversial, the reality is that treating LPR takes time. I actually believe that it’s a particular sinister condition in the way that it shows no signs of abating, but in my experience, it also can disappear as quickly as it came. For some reason, LPR just didn’t seem to slowly fade away for me. It stuck around stubbornly, and then abruptly made an exit. I now realise, I may have given up on treatments in the past, just before they were about to really help.

LPR is multifactorial, and is associated with causes like motor neuron dysfunction, bacterial overgrowth and sensory neuropathy. It may be a combination of all those things. Regardless, any one of those potential root causes doesn’t resolve overnight. Almost all interventions aimed at addressing these root causes, will take weeks to work, and may not show any signs of help until that time has elapsed.

On the other side of things, many of the treatments themselves require consistent administration to achieve any lasting effect on the body. Even the classic PPI needs to build up in your system before it has its full effect. Behaviour and dietary changes also won’t lead to bodily changes before they’ve been repeated for quite some time.

Sadly, as an LPR sufferer you have no choice but to be patient, and give any treatment time to kick in before deciding if it’s working for you or not. I would say, it almost always needs at least a few weeks.

You need to isolate the treatment variable as much as possible

While you’re waiting for a treatment to work, it’s very tempting to try something else in parallel. Perhaps you’re on a PPI and you want to try changing your diet. Perhaps you’ve found one herbal supplement, but can’t see any good reason not to try another at the same time. I’ve been down that path, and I know it leads to utter confusion. I found that my symptoms seemed to be coming and going erratically (though the going may have been wishful thinking or just randomness), and I couldn’t pin down what was helping and what was hurting.

If you think about the fact that treatments can take weeks to work, and know anything at all about science, you’ll realise that this is a problem of isolating the variable. If you change too many things at once, you have no idea what is having what effect. That means that even if you start getting better, you might ascribe the improvement to the wrong treatment, and then backslide later. I certainly had that experience.

As frustrating as it is, I would really recommend that you try one treatment at a time if you’re suffering from LPR. It’s the only way you’ll be able to get any certainty about what will help you. You can try the scatter gun approach, and you may get better, but then you might find yourself right back where you started without any good explanation of why.

You need to stay the course

Of course all of what I’m describing is very psychologically difficult. LPR is a funny condition, in that it’s not life threatening. It can even sound a bit benign when you just describe it as a sore throat, but I think it exacts most of its punishment psychologically. Consistent discomfort is really taxing, but constant anxiety about what you can and can’t eat, or what you can and can’t do is even worse.

Nevertheless, I think in the long run, you’ll benefit from trying one treatment at a time, giving it a few weeks to work (or not) and taking careful note of its effects. That means when you finally find something that helps, you won’t miss the signs.

In my personal opinion, the right place to start is almost always diet, but that’s a subject for another post.

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