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Can Acid Reflux Cause Asthma

What Is Gerd Asthma

A link between asthma and GERD was first recognized in 1909 by Dr. Henry Osler who wrote, The attacks may be due to direct irritation of the bronchial mucosa, or may be induced indirectly, too, by reflex influences from the stomach.2

Studies showing a link between the two diseases first started appearing in the mid-1970s.

Studies show a whopping 75% of asthmatics have GERD, and that asthmatics are 50% more likely to develop GERD than non-asthmatics. So Oslers theory is now well established. Those with severe asthma, or asthma resistant to traditional asthma medicines, are increasingly likely to develop GERD.3

Asthma GERD is a non-allergic, or intrinsic, subgroup of asthma. When diagnosed in non-allergic asthmatics, GERD tends to be poorly responsive to asthma rescue and controller medicines, and is therefore considered difficult to control, or severe asthma. At the present time, it is unknown whether GERD treatment results in better asthma control.4,5

It is generally considered an adult-onset disease, although it may also be diagnosed, as noted above, in childhood. While an asthma subgroup of its own, it can also be a secondary diagnosis to other asthma subgroups, particularly allergic asthma and obese asthma

Can Acid Reflux Cause Shortness Of Breath

Acid reflux shortness of breath often happens at night. It is caused by acid rising up in the back of the throat where it can enter the lungs and cause the airways to swell. This is the reason for acid reflux in lungs symptoms, such as coughing and choking.

Young adults with nocturnal reflux breathing problems are more likely to have asthma and respiratory symptoms . Researchers have also found a relationship between GERD and obstructive sleep apnea syndrome , a condition in which breathing can be interrupted during sleep, which affects the bodys oxygen levels.

The Link Between Gerd And Asthma

Researchers have also identified a link between GERD and asthma. A 2019 study suggested a bidirectional relationship between GERD and asthma. This means that people with GERD may be more likely to have asthma, and people with asthma may be more likely to experience GERD.

In fact, a 2015 study estimates that up to 89% of people with asthma also experience GERD symptoms. The reason for this may be due to how acid interacts with the airways. Acid in the esophagus sends a warning signal to the brain, which triggers the airways to contract. This, in turn, triggers asthma symptoms.

In cases of GERD-related asthma, treating the symptoms of GERD may help alleviate the symptoms of asthma.

As a 2016 review notes, asthma may also trigger GERD. During an asthma attack, the airways tighten, causing pressure in the esophagus. This increased pressure could encourage acid to leak into the esophagus.

Sometimes, it may be difficult to tell whether a persons symptoms are the result of asthma or GERD. For instance, a

Untreated or unmanaged GERD can lead to numerous health complications. Some examples include:

What Else Can I Do To Prevent Heartburn

While we would never advise you to simply continue to endure side effects caused by a medication you are taking without talking to your prescribing doctor about them, there are things you can do to attempt to achieve symptom relief yourself.

The steps you can take to treat your heartburn fall into roughly three categories:

  • Using over-the-counter medications to treat heartburn
  • Turning to natural heartburn remedies
  • Making lifestyle changes, including going on an acid reflux diet

Over-the-counter antacids  heartburn medications can, themselves, produce side effects you really dont want if you take them for long enough. You dont necessarily want to add diarrhea, kidney stones, and osteoporosis to your list of health problems! You will also want to consult with your pharmacist before you take over-the-counter heartburn medications to make sure they will not interact with the medication you are already using. 

Natural heartburn remedies, which include chewing gum for half an hour after eating  making sure you dont eat anything after 7 pm , and going for walks after your meals will not harm you in any way, even if they do not cure your heartburn.

Home Remedies To Relieve Acid Reflux Heartburn And Avoid Asthma Triggers Due To Acid Reflux

Asthma Associated With Gerd

Though there is no connection between Asthma and Acid Reflux in respect of whether one can cause the other, but there is certainly evidence that one can cause the other condition more difficult to manage.

If you take precautions to avoid acid reflux, then you certainly can avoid triggering Asthma.

Here is what you can do at home.

  • Eat meals at least three hours before going to bed. The lying down position can increase acid reflux if you prone to acid reflux.
  • Keep your head slightly above the rest of the body while sleeping. About 6 inches is enough. This will help the stomach contents to remain in the stomach. They will not come up. However, too much bending will put pressure on stomach triggering acid reflux.
  • Always eat small portions of meals at a time. Filling up your stomach with lots of food is a sure recipe for acid reflux.
  • Limit consumption of fatty foods, tea, coffee, chocolates, carbonated drinks and alcohol. Even use of tomatoes and citrus juices should be avoided.
  • Stop smoking. It impacts both acid reflux as well as asthma.
  • Reduce weight. Extra pounds around the belly will add pressure on the stomach.
  • Wear loose clothing and ensure you tummy is not tightened by the pressure of the belt. Wear loose belt.
  • These acid reflux precautions will go a long way in reducing asthma triggers due to acid reflux.

    If these measures dont reduce acid reflux then take medical help but do make sure that your acid reflux doesnt worsen your chronic asthma.


    What Medications Do I Take To Manage The Symptoms Of Gerd

    Many over-the-counter and prescription medications relieve GERD. Most of OTC drugs come in prescription strength too. Your provider will give you a prescription for these stronger drugs if youre not getting relief from the OTC formulas.

    The most common GERD medications:

    • Antacids include Tums®, Rolaids®, Mylanta®, Riopan® and Maalox®.
    • H-2 receptor blockers include Tagamet®, Pepcid AC®, Axid AR® and Zantac®.
    • Proton pump inhibitors include Prevacid®, Prilosec®, Zegerid®, Nexium®, Protonix®, AcipHex® and Dexilant®.
    • Baclofen is a prescription drug used to reduce the relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter which allows acid backwash.

    Acid Reflux And Asthma

    • Acid Reflux and Asthma

    Did you know that those who suffer from asthma are at a higher risk of developing the chronic form of acid reflux that is commonly referred to as gastroesophageal reflux disease at some point in their lives? In fact, studies show that as many as 80% of adults with asthma deal with GERD.

    While its still unclear what the exact connection is between GERD and asthma, several theories exist as to why there may be a link between the two conditions.

    Rhinitis And Sinusitis Connection: Rhinosinusitis

    The most common causes of chronic nasal congestion are allergic and nonallergic rhinitis inflammation of the nose. Nonallergic rhinitis caused by environmental or occupational irritants. Allergic rhinitis happens when you breathe in something to which you are allergic.

    Dust, dander, insect venom, or pollen is only a few of the many triggers for allergic rhinitis. Rhinitis and sinusitis can make your life miserable. Recent studies by doctors have better defined the association between rhinitis and sinusitis. Sinusitis is often preceded by rhinitis and rarely occurs without concurrent rhinitis.

    What Causes The Link Between Gerd And Asthma

    The mechanisms behind the association arent crystal-clear, but there are a few theories. One is that if someone has GERD, aspiration of stomach acid into the airways can cause irritation there, leading to breathing difficulties or a persistent cough.

    If you have acid reflux and you regurgitate high enough, you can get a bronchospasm that can trigger asthma, Dr. Vaezi notes. Another theory is that acid reflux may trigger a protective nerve reflex that causes the airways to tighten in order to prevent the stomach acid from entering the lungs; this can lead to a bronchospasm too.

    There isnt a single test that can definitively identify reflux as the cause of asthma-like symptoms in those with GERD. But not responding to steroids is a big red flag to consider GERD in a patient with severe asthma, notes Kaiser Lim, MD, a consultant in pulmonary and critical care medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. To determine if reflux is exacerbating asthma, doctors typically consider a persons symptoms and their response to treatment. In terms of treatment, a doctor might prescribe aggressive use of acid-suppressing medication to see if the asthma-like symptoms improve, Vaezi says.

    Acid Reflux And Asthma: Two Sides Of The Same Coin

    If you have to much histamine dwelling your blood, it causes both acid reflux and asthma. Histamine stimulates acid production in your stomach and causes swelling in your lungs. If you are histamine intolerant, you need to change your diet to stop both conditions.

    Recent investigation shows that acid reflux and allergies are linked. Histamine release is triggered by pro-inflammatory proteins, called cytokines. These cytokines play a role in the development of acid reflux, asthma and allergies. 

    Inhaling Acid Whilst Asleep

    Hi I have had acid reflux for 2 years and been on Lanzoprazole 30mg once a day as a PPI

    I am 42, male and overweight

    Recently I have had teh most frightening experience of waking up in teh middle of teh night choking and unable to breathe. It lasts about 60 seconds but feels like 10 minutes

    The doctor says I could be inhaling acid whilst asleep.

    Has anyone information or experience of this and know what can be done about it its VERY scary.

    Thank you very much

  • 12 years ago

    No chris you arent mental,, Acid Reflux can definately cause this , it must be some sort of automatic response to acid being in a certain area or something :angel:

  • Posted 12 years ago

    Dear All, I know how you all feel! I have had oesophagitus and major acid reflux since I was 19 and I am now 44. I have had cameras shoved down my throat more times than I care to mention only to be told that yes I have like grade bad oesophagitus. I am currently on nexium which controls it nicely most of the time although i sometimes have need to double the dose.

    I am also awakened in the middle of the night fairly regularily, being unable to breathe nor speak & with terrible pain due to a major gush of pure acid coming up to my throat and burning it to a frazzle. My wife seems to have got used to me hopping around the house in the middle of the night, guzzling milk, water, chewing strange things like brockley stalks in an attempt to get rid of the intence inferno in my throat.

  • When To See A Doctor

    A one-off or occasional bout of acid reflux and shortness of breath may not be cause for concern. If a person can keep the symptoms at bay using OTC medications, there is generally no need to see a doctor.

    However, anyone experiencing persistent acid reflux or GERD symptoms should see a doctor for a full diagnosis. A doctor may carry out diagnostic tests to determine the cause of GERD and to identify any possible complications. A doctor may also prescribe medication to help manage GERD symptoms.

    Effects Of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease On Asthma

    Asthma Caused By Gerd Symptoms

    There are multiple mechanisms by which asthma and GERD can interact. Reflux may induce asthma either directly, by effects on the airway through an aspiration-induced response, or indirectly, via neurogenically induced inflammation. The esophagus and lungs have a common embryonic origin, so complex interactions are possible. Reflux of the gastroduodenal contents may induce bronchoconstriction through a vagus-mediated reflex, through neurally enhanced bronchial reactivity, or directly through microaspiration .

    Reflex and reflux pathophysiologic mechanisms in extraesophageal manifestations of gastroesophageal reflux disease.

    A causal relationship between GERD and asthma is difficult to establish because either condition can induce the other . However, one should suspect GERD-induced asthma in patients experiencing any of the following: asthma presenting initially in adulthood, poor control of asthma with medications, onset of heartburn or regurgitation before asthma events, and worsening of asthma events in association with the consumption of large meals or alcohol or with the supine position. Empiric proton pump inhibitor therapy is often initiated in patients with asthma in order to assess their response to reflux therapy and determine whether GERD is a contributor to their asthma exacerbation.

    What Do I Do If I Think I Have Gerd

    With GERD when reflux and heartburn happen more than once in a while the tissue lining your esophagus is getting battered regularly with stomach acid. Eventually the tissue becomes damaged. If you have this chronic acid reflux and heartburn you can see its affecting your daily eating and sleeping habits.

    When GERD makes your daily life uncomfortable in this way, call your healthcare provider. Although GERD isnt life-threatening in itself, its chronic inflammation of the esophagus can lead to something more serious. You may need stronger prescription medications or even surgery to ease your symptoms.

    What Is Acid Reflux

    Acid reflux is when stomach acid reverses direction out of the stomach and into the esophagus and possibly the throat and upper airway. GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease is a severe version that affects the esophagus and often manifests with severe heartburn and sometimes chest pain. LPR, or laryngopharyngeal reflux, occurs when the reflux makes it up to the throat and/or into the larynx or voice box regions, CEENTA ENT doctorChad Kessler, MD, said. Silent reflux occurs when no significant heartburn-like symptoms are noted. Sometimes LPR and silent reflux occur simultaneously. Symptoms that may be noted are:

    • Increased throat clearing
    • A chronic cough

    When Do I Need To See The Doctor

    If your acid reflux happens more than twice a week or the symptoms are severe, it is time to see a doctor. Equally, if you have tried medications together with lifestyle changes and they dont bring long-lasting relief, you need to consult a healthcare professional. Dont forget to tell your doctor about any medication you are taking because some drugs can cause GERD symptoms.

    Because breathing problems and acid reflux can be symptoms of a number of conditions, your doctor may want to run a few tests to get a clear idea. For example, they might need to check for ulcers, physical narrowings in the esophagus, pH levels, and tissue changes.

    For this reason, your doctor may recommend an endoscopy and take some samples in order to identify the cause and pick the best treatment for your case.

    The doctor may recommend that you start with lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking and avoiding fatty foods, in combination with anti-reflux medication to manage your problem. In some cases, such as hiatal hernia, surgery may be required.

    TIPSee how well your gut bacteria protect you from obesity with the Atlas Microbiome Test.

    Ways To Alleviate Asthma Symptoms

    Asthma is a much more serious condition than GERD, so its important that you take treatment seriously. Always follow the direction of your doctor. However, you can also try a few simple things that may help your symptoms such as taking supplements. Ginkgo extra, fish oil supplements and natural herbs are all said to relieve asthma symptoms.

    Yoga and deep breathing exercises may also help with asthma symptoms as it can help give you control over your breathing.

    Before you add any herbs or supplements into your treatment plan, its a good idea to consult with your doctor first.

    If you suffer from GERD or asthma and need a proper diagnosis or to be set up on a treatment plan, consider visiting your local CareNow® clinic. Each of our 100 locations throughout the United States is fully staffed with qualified physicians ready to serve you.

    Before your visit, dont forget to take advantage of our Web Check-In® feature. It allows you to check-in before your appointment so you can stay away from the waiting room.

    Disclaimer: Patients health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you.

    Acid Reflux Causes Sinusitis

    Acid reflux can be responsible for causing sinusitis. Micro-aspiration of stomach content can cause both asthma and sinusitis.

    Sinusitis is an inflammation inside your nose cavities. Inhaled particles enteryour nose and sinuses. The tissue inside your nose and sinuses,called mucosa, reacts and gets swollen.

    Secretion increases and yournose starts dripping. The swollen nasal mucusa builds up pressureinside your sinuses and gives you headaches.

    Acid Reflux In A Nutshell

    Most people will experience the uncomfortable feeling of esophageal burning at least once in their life. In some cases, the wave of digestive juices can literally take your breath away. This very unpleasant, yet quite common problem is called acid reflux.

    Many still think that heartburn is caused by too much stomach acid. However, much like the flat earth theory, this is a misconception. Heartburn happens when the acidic digestive juices of your stomach re-enter the esophagus .

    If this happens several times per week, it might be a sign of GastroEsophageal Reflux Disease , a condition in which the esophagus becomes inflamed from stomach acid damage. Symptoms of GERD include:

    • regurgitation

    Gerd Shortness Of Breath

    Studies show that stomach acid can inflame the windpipe, which affects breathing. However, esophageal acidity can also trigger the vagus nerve which tells the lungs to tighten , and this can cause GERD wheezing.

    TIPThe vagus nerve is an essential part of the central nervous system that is responsible for automatic bodily functions, like breathing and digestion.

    Ways To Alleviate Gerd Symptoms

    Acid Reflux Asthma Like Symptoms

    There are several things you can do to yourself to keep your GERD symptoms to a minimum. If you carry excess weight on your body, losing the weight should make a big difference in your symptoms. Stopping smoking has also been known to alleviate GERD symptoms.

    • Beverages that are caffeinated or alcoholic
    • Chocolate
    • Foods that are high in fat
    • Onions
    • Garlic
    • Pizza, salsa or other tomato-based foods

    Its also recommended that you eat smaller meals five to six times a day instead of having three large meals each day. If possible, you should also try to eat your last meal three to four hours before you go to bed.

    If you have a child who suffers from acid reflux, there are a few things you can try to help relieve the symptoms. When youre feeding your infant, burp them several times and keep them in an upright position for at least 30 minutes after theyre done eating.

    As with adults, children should also have smaller meals more frequently and stay away from the list of acid reflux-triggering foods listed above.

    Can Gerd Cause Asthma

    We dont know the exact relationship between GERD and asthma. More than 75% of people with asthma have GERD. They are twice as likely to have GERD as people without asthma. GERD may make asthma symptoms worse, and asthma drugs may make GERD worse. But treating GERD often helps to relieve asthma symptoms.

    The symptoms of GERD can injure the lining of the throat, airways and lungs, making breathing difficult and causing a persistent cough, which may suggest a link. Doctors mostly look at GERD as a cause of asthma if:

    • Asthma begins in adulthood.
    • Asthma symptoms get worse after a meal, exercise, at night and after lying down.
    • Asthma doesnt get better with standard asthma treatments.

    If you have asthma and GERD, your healthcare provider can help you find the best ways to handles both conditions the right medications and treatments that wont aggravate symptoms of either disease.

    Treat Reflux And Help Your Asthma Too

    If you find you are suffering from both reflux and asthma, the best way to ease symptoms of both is to concentrate on treating the reflux. Antacids, H2 blockers, and proton-pump inhibitors can all help. However, sometimes a prescription medicine or even surgery is necessary.

    There are a number of non-medical treatments, too. You can:

    • Sleep with the head of your bed raised 6 to 8 inches
    • Not eat for 3-4 hours before you go to bed
    • Eat small meals throughout the day instead of three large meals
    • Avoid mints, chocolate, fatty foods, spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol
    • Lose weight

    The Relationship Between Gerd And Asthma

    Kristi M. Isaac, BS, PharmD, AE-CClinical Assistant Professor of Pharmacy PracticeXavier University of LouisianaNew Orleans, Louisiana

    US Pharm.

    Asthma is a chronic airway disease characterized by airflow obstruction, bronchial hyperresponsiveness, and inflammation.1 There are many triggers and comorbid conditions that have been shown to increase asthma symptoms and/or precipitate asthma exacerbations. The Expert Panel Report 3: Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma recognizes gastroesophageal reflux disease as a comorbid condition of asthma and recommends medical management of GERD in appropriate patients.1 

    The relationship between asthma and GERD has been discussed for many years. In 1892, Sir William Osler described an association: severe paroxysms of asthma may be induced by overloading the stomach, or by taking certain articles of food.2 Although these two disorders often occur together, the relationship between GERD and asthma remains unclear. This article will review the prevalence, proposed pathophysiology, and treatment recommendations for persons with both asthma and GERD. 

    Effects Of Asthma On Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

    Pathophysiologically, asthma may predispose an individual to the reflux of gastroduodenal contents into the esophagus by a variety of mechanisms, including the following: increased intrathoracic pressure, vagus nerve dysfunction, altered diaphragmatic crural function, and decreased lower esophageal sphincter pressure due to medical therapies for asthma .,

    Patients with asthma often have lung hyperinflation. Changes in the pressure gradient between the stomach and the esophagus may develop from the increased work of breathing and lung hyperinflation, which can then result in a herniation of the LES into the chest, impairing the barrier to reflux and potentially causing continued reflux due to decreased LES pressure. The complex problem of identifying the relationship between asthma and GERD is that, in a given patient with asthma, it is difficult to discern the inciting factor. Thus, in a given patient with difficult-to-control asthma, the response of the pulmonary symptoms to empiric GERD therapy is often used clinically to determine whether the 2 problems are causally linked.

    Asthma And Heartburn Relationship

    There is a mutual cause-and-effect relationship between asthma and GERD. In some situations, reflux disease can actually cause the asthma, particularly adult-onset asthma. In other cases the GERD can potentiate existing asthma, making it difficult to control. In addition, asthma symptoms such as cough and wheezing magnify the difference in pressure between chest and abdomen , encouraging GERD.

    Can Acid Reflux Cause Chest Pain

    Chest pain is one of the most common symptoms of acid reflux. Chest pain related to reflux is also called noncardiac chest pain . Chest pain occurs during reflux episodes because the heart and the esophagus share a nerve network. Acid reflux, specifically GERD, causes up to 66% of reported NCCPs.

    Evaluating Your Chest Pain

    Since chest pain from acid reflux and more serious conditions such as heart attack are hard to distinguish, its important to know how to evaluate your chest pain. Chest pain from acid reflux often affects the sternum or the area below it called the epigastrium. Pain from acid reflux is often characterized as a sharp pain, which gets worse with coughing. 

    Meanwhile, chest pain from non-acid reflux sources could be described as a deep, searing pain. Heart-related chest pain often radiates to other parts of the body including the back, neck, shoulders, and arms. 

    The symptoms that accompany chest pain are also key in evaluating the nature of the pain. Gastro-related chest pain is often accompanied by burping or flatulence, trouble swallowing, bile regurgitation, and a burning sensation in the throat or stomach. 

    Cardiac-related chest pain is often accompanied by numbness in the left arm or shoulder, shortness of breath, dizziness, and high body temperatures. 

    How Common Is Gerd

    GERD is very common. The condition and its symptoms touch a huge number of people: 20% of the U.S. population.

    Anyone of any age can develop GERD, but some may be more at risk for it. For example, the chances youll have some form of GERD increase after age 40.

    Youre also more likely to have it if youre:

    • Overweight or obese.
    • Smoking or are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke.
    • Taking certain medications that may cause acid reflux.


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