A Q&A with LPR Specialist Dr. Inna Husain

In honor of Women’s History Month, we sat down with our VP of Education and Community Outreach and Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR) Specialist, Dr. Inna Husain. With a passion for helping patients find relief from reflux-related conditions, Dr. Husain brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our community.

Dr. Husain shares her unique road to Laryngology and what it’s like being a female surgeon. You’ll also learn more about the symptoms of silent reflux and tips on how to maintain overall ear, nose, and throat health while managing GERD. Let’s dig in! 


Where did you grow up and where did you go to school?

Dr. Husain: I moved around a lot growing up – almost every 2-3 years. Growing up, I lived in NY, NJ, CA, ND, and TX. I went to college at Rice University in Houston (go Owls!) and since my family still lives there, I call Houston home. I then went to medical school in Dallas at UT Southwestern. I finally moved to Chicago to complete my Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery residency at Northwestern. After a 1yr fellowship in Laryngology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (a Harvard teaching hospital), I permanently moved back to Chicago. 

Did you always want to be a doctor? Why did you choose Laryngology as a specialty?

Dr. Husain: I was actually really interested in public health and health education and for this I went to study abroad in South Africa in college. However, what I experienced there really changed my outlook and I knew direct patient care was for me.

I grew up with a certain comfort with the head and neck as my mother is an otolaryngologist. I investigated it in medical school and quickly learned why she loved it as a profession. As an ENT resident, I spent time at a children's hospital and fell in love with managing the airway and helping patients swallow. Working with kids was somewhat heartbreaking for me, so I decided to do adult voice, airway, and swallow aka Laryngology. 

What experiences do you think are unique to women in the field?

Dr. Husain: As a woman in surgery, I have had to deal with a lot of implicit bias over the years.  This is unfortunately often a shared experience with my fellow women in surgery. We get asked questions our male colleagues often don’t experience such as: 

In addition, it is well established that surgery tools and devices are made for males i.e. gloves, equipment, microscopes, etc. So not only in training do you have to learn how to use the surgical tool, you have to learn how to adapt to using something not made for your gender.

What’s the most exciting thing/research happening in your field right now?

Dr. Husain: There are so many exciting things! On the reflux front, there is an anti-pepsin agent in the works to help with silent reflux. In addition, work is advancing in the field of stem cell vocal fold regeneration. 

Do you have any mentors or peers that really inspire you?

Dr. Husain: My lifelong mentor has always been my mother. I’m very much in awe of how she navigated being an immigrant in this country, succeeding in a difficult surgical residency (with very few female colleagues), and still had time to always be there for me. Her guidance has always helped to center me and keep me true to myself.

You’re super active and relatable on social media. What kicked off your passion for education and creating a unique voice on IG and TikTok?

Dr. Husain:As the pandemic started, I was feeling somewhat isolated from my colleagues. Instagram felt like a way to connect and collaborate despite the social distancing. Along the way, I found an audience that was interested to learn more about throat topics and silent reflux. These are topics I am not only passionate about but suffer from as well. Social media was the perfect avenue to share my love of teaching, passion for laryngology, all with an empathy you can only have by feeling these symptoms yourself. Plus, despite its reach, the connections feel one-on-one which is perfect for an introvert like myself.

What’s the craziest question you’ve been asked on TikTok or IG?

Dr. Husain: Although I am very clear that social media is not for direct medical advice, I recall one follower sending me a very detailed DM regarding their health history. I mean very detailed. There was information about relationships causing stress, imaging, medication trials, etc. Pages and pages to scroll through. The message ended with a simple enough question, “so what should I do next?” As much as I want to help my followers, these type of conversations are best during a patient doctor visit, not a DM. 


What is LPR and what are the common signs that a patient may be experiencing silent reflux?

Dr. Husain: LPR stands for Laryngopharyngeal Reflux. It is often known as, “silent reflux” because traditional symptoms of heartburn, indigestion, and regurgitation may be absent. When gastric contents move upward in the esophagus into the throat, they can trigger inflammation and the throat’s defense mechanisms. This can lead to a host of upper aerodigestive tract symptoms such as throat clearing, globus, postnasal drip sensation, hoarseness, and chronic cough. It’s important to note that these symptoms are not specific to LPR or silent reflux but are often seen with the disorder. 

What are some of the most common questions you get when it comes to Alginate Therapy in helping relieve acid reflux and GERD symptoms?

Dr. Husain: One of the first questions I get asked is, “Is it safe?” I’m happy to explain that it is a safe supplement for reflux symptoms compared to traditional acid suppression medications. Alginates use your body’s own natural stomach acid to go into suspension and create a barrier below the lower esophageal sphincter. This mechanical barrier helps to reduce upward movement known as reflux. It is generally considered safe for use in pregnancy and in children.  


As a fellow acid reflux sufferer yourself, what advice do you have for individuals seeking to maintain overall Ear, Nose, and Throat health while managing GERD and LPRD?

Dr. Husain: Chronic throat symptoms need an exam so you definitely want to start with an ENT exam to make sure there is no other diagnosis. The symptoms of LPRD can be nonspecific and so other etiologies need to be ruled out as well. Also, remember your larynx is a very sensitive protective organ for your airway. This makes it very responsive to inflammation from above (i.e. sinonasal passages) and below (ie esophagus and stomach) so when having throat symptoms, we need to avoid tunnel vision so no root cause diagnosis is missed.


Dr. Husain is a board-certified otolaryngologist and the Medical Director of Laryngology for the Community Care Network of Northwest Indiana. She is an international speaker on the topic of LPR and author of peer-reviewed journal articles. In addition, she sees patients full time (learn more here). You can find Dr. Husain on Instagram @innahusainmd and on TikTok @throatdoc.