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Why Does Gerd Cause Asthma

The Connection Between Heartburn And Asthma Explained

Silent GERD May Cause Asthma, Chronic Cough, but no Heartburn. Why?

It is believed that more than 80% of asthma patients also suffer from recurrent heartburn, a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease . People who have asthma are twice as likely as those who do not have asthma to have GERD.

Doctors arent sure why the two are so closely related, but they know it has something to do with stomach acid and your airways.

What Are The Main Symptoms Of Gerd

The main symptoms are persistent heartburn and acid regurgitation. Some people have GERD without heartburn. Instead, they experience pain in the chest, hoarseness in the morning or trouble swallowing. You may feel like you have food stuck in your throat, or like you are choking or your throat is tight. GERD can also cause a dry cough and bad breath.

Whats The Relationship Between Gerd And Sinusitis

Acid reflux can cause sinus issues so there is a definite possibility that GERD is causing your sinusitis. In fact the more appropriate term is Laryngopharyngeal Reflux which is a different form of acid reflux which primarily affects around the throat area and a typical symptom with it is sinus and breathing issues.

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Ways To Alleviate Gerd 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.

What Are The Symptoms Of Reflux Related Adult Onset Asthma

Chronic Cough

Patient may have the common symptoms of reflux, including heartburn, difficulty swallowing and regurgitation.

However, as a result of the close relationship between the esophagus and windpipe, many patients may present with uncommon breathing symptoms including:

  • Chronic cough
  • Pneumonia
  • Aspiration

Chronic aspiration of gastric acid and bile , which typically occurs at night when patients are lying down, can severely damage the lungs and vocal cords. Long-standing aspiration can even cause severe pulmonary disease such as pulmonary fibrosis.

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Risk Factors For Gerd

Lifting heavy weights Certain medical conditions and medications

Fortunately, theres a lot you can do today to reduce episodes of heartburn. These steps will also contribute to better overall health for both you and your gut microbiome:

  • Quit smoking and limit stress
  • Work towards and maintain a healthy BMI
  • Choose small meals and avoid overeating
  • Find out what foods trigger your acid reflux
  • Avoid fatty foods and fill up on fiber instead
  • Cut down on alcohol and caffeinated drinks
  • Avoid wearing tight pants and belts
  • Stop eating 23 hours before going to sleep
  • Sleep with your upper body elevated

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.

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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.

What Causes The Link Between Gerd And Asthma

Your breathing problems may actually be caused by your stomach, not 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.

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Can Acid Reflux Cause Nerve Pain

Acid reflux symptoms can be typical or atypical in nature. Tingling limbs and nerve pain are considered rare and atypical acid reflux symptoms.

Dr. Mark Babyatsky, a former department chairman at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, explained that inflammation from acid reflux can reach the lungs and trigger pneumonia.

As a result, the diaphragm can become inflamed, affecting the phrenic nerve, which is a nerve connecting the neck, lung, heart, and diaphragm. In this scenario, a patient can feel referred pain in the limbs, specifically the arms and shoulders.

Alternatively, nerve-related issues may be caused by pre-existing neuropathic conditions, leading to acid reflux. An example of this is gastroparesis. Gastroparesis is a form of diabetic peripheral neuropathy characterized by slow digestion. This leads to bloating, heartburn, and vomiting of undigested food.

If youre experiencing acid reflux symptoms with nerve pain, theres a high chance that your nerve pain is not reflux-related, especially if you are experiencing temporary reflux. Get in touch with a medical professional to find a separate diagnosis concerning your nerve pain.

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.

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The Correlation Between Gerd And Asthma

This Article is Written and/or Reviewed by RefluxMD Medical Authors Team and Reviewers

A friend recently forwarded an article they saw online about the relationship between GERD and asthma and asked what I thought about it. In the article, the author talks about whether GERD causes asthma and states that while GERD can make the symptoms of asthma worse , GERD does not cause asthma. This highlights a common problem that comes up when discussing medical problems: confusing a symptom with a disease. Asthma is a symptom characterized by wheezing and breathing difficulty due to any narrowing of the air passages. The article talked about GERD and asthma as if it was one disease. It is not. Asthma is more correctly looked at as a symptom that results when the small air passages constrict for any reason.

Consider Gerd In Patients With Pulmonary Diseases

Why Do I Have Heartburn?

Because not all presentations of lung diseases include gastroesophageal reflux disease ‘s more commonly recognized symptoms, such as heartburn and regurgitation, it is easy to miss GERD as a contributing factor. Internists should be on the lookout for red flags such as dysphagia or weight loss.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease has been linked to many forms of pulmonary disease, including aspiration pneumonia, asthma, chronic cough and, more recently, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis . Studies estimate that as many as 90% of patients with IPF may also have GERD.

However, because not all presentations of lung diseases include GERD’s more commonly recognized symptoms, such as heartburn and regurgitation, it may be missed as a contributing factor. Instead, patients may present with asymptomatic GERD that can be recognized through respiratory symptoms or other extraesophageal symptoms.

Research to date has made it difficult to establish a cause-and-effect relationship between GERD and lung diseases, but experts say internists should be aware of the possible association between the two, methods for detecting both and strategies for managing the condition.

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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.

What Are The Causes Of Reflux Related Adult Onset Asthma

GERD can cause asthma-like symptoms via two mechanisms:

  • Aspiration of acid particles in the trachea can cause coughing, wheezing and pneumonia
  • Acid in the esophagus causes a reflex phenomenon in the trachea, triggering asthma-like symptoms

Thus, it is important for physicians to consider the possibility of GERD when treating patients with lung problems.

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Can Acid Reflux Cause Fever And Chills

Sustained esophagus damage from bile regurgitation can lead to esophagitis, which is the inflammation of the esophagus. Esophagitis can also be caused by infections, abuse of oral medication, and allergies.

Reflux esophagitis is a complication of acid reflux, leading to tissue damage and inflammation. Patients with infectious esophagitis may experience fever, chills, muscle aches, and headaches. Dealing with acid reflux trigger often alleviates esophagitis symptoms.

On the other hand, acid reflux alone doesnt cause fever and chills.

If you are not diagnosed with GERD or esophagitis but are experiencing fever and chills with reflux symptoms, get in touch with your doctor immediately to get more information. You could be experiencing a severe bacterial infection and need antibiotics to get well.

Gastroesophageal Reflux And Other Pulmonary Diseases

Acid Reflux Taking Your Breath Away

Gastroesophageal reflux is a comorbid condition in other pulmonary diseases including cystic fibrosis and interstitial lung disease , such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and scleroderma. It may also be a cofactor in bronchitis and COPD. All of these comorbid conditions have only a small body of evidence suggesting a possible relationship between GER and the specific pulmonary disease.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Prevalence in Cystic Fibrosis Patients

Patients with CF have a GER prevalence of approximately 50%126. Furthermore, studies show that CF patients with GER have more severe pulmonary dysfunction compared to those without GER. Although prospective data are not available, aggressive GER therapy may slow the rate of decline in pulmonary function. Gastroesophageal reflux should be treated in CF patients.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Prevalence in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Patients

Gastroesophageal Reflux Prevalence in Patients with Systemic Sclerosis

Gastroesophageal reflux is also common in patients with pulmonary manifestations of systemic sclerosis. Johnson and colleagues132 noted that 11 of 13 subjects had abnormal esophageal acid contact times at the proximal probe on pH testing. They also noted a correlation between proximal acid and a decrease in lung diffusion capacity.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Comorbidity in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Patients

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What Should I Do If I Have Asthma And Gerd

If you have both asthma and GERD, it is important that you consistently takeany asthma medications your doctor has prescribed to you, as well as controlyour exposure to asthma triggers as much as possible.

Fortunately, many of the symptoms of GERD can be treated and/or prevented bytaking steps to control or adjust personal behavior. Some of these stepsinclude:

  • Raise the head of your bed by six inches to allow gravity to help keep thestomach’s contents in the stomach.
  • Eat meals at least three to four hours before lying down, and avoid bedtimesnacks.
  • Eat smaller meals with moderate portions of food.
  • Maintain a healthy weight to eliminate unnecessary intra-abdominal pressurecaused by extra pounds.
  • Limit consumption of fatty foods, chocolate, peppermint, coffee, tea, colasand alcoholâall of which relax the lower esophageal sphincterâand tomatoesand citrus fruits or juices, which contribute additional acid that can irritatethe esophagus.
  • Give up smoking, which also relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter.
  • Wear loose belts and clothing.

Aside from these steps, over-the-counter antacids such as Tums, Rolaids,Maalox, Zantac, Tagamet, Pepcid, and Axid can often relieve GERD symptoms.However, if after two weeks these medications do not help with your symptoms,your doctor may prescribe medications that block or limit the amount of stomachacid your body produces. Under rare circumstances, GERD may only be treatablethrough surgery.

Can Acid Reflux Cause Dizziness

Dizziness and acid reflux are rarely associated with each other. However, personal accounts show that acid reflux, specifically GERD can also lead to dizziness in patients. This dizziness is often characterized as lightheadedness, weakness, and a temporarily blurry vision.

Dizziness and Acid Reflux: Is There a Link?

While dizziness is not often listed as a common symptom of acid reflux, a study suggests that there is a link between peripheral vertigo and acid reflux.

Scientists suggest that patients who experience dizziness alongside their acid reflux may be due to gastric acids irritating the ear, which could lead to ear infections.

The study reported that 77.6% of patients with peripheral vertigo were also diagnosed with acid reflux compared to 26% of patients without reflux symptoms.

Although further studies are required to finalize the findings, the researchers suggest that reflux contents such as Hydrochloric acid and pepsin could get into the middle ear through the Eustachian tube and affect the ear directly. This can cause tinnitus or a perceived ringing of the ears.

Another way acid reflux could cause dizziness is through bacterial infection. The bacteria Helicobacter pylori can travel further up the esophagus through reflux contents and reach the upper respiratory tract. This could cause scarred ear drum , leading to dizziness.

Learn more: Can Acid Reflux Cause Sinus and Ear Problems?

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How Asthma Affects Heartburn

Some asthma drugs may raise your chances of getting acid reflux because of the way they affect different muscles in your body. Prednisone and albuterol may affect the muscles that control the opening between your esophagus and your stomach. This may allow acid to leak into your esophagus.

Other asthma drugs have an impact on the muscles that make up the walls of your esophagus — and keep it from working the way it should.

Acid Reflux In A Nutshell

Gerd Wheezing At Night

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

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What To Do When You Have Gerd And Asthma

If GERD makes asthma symptoms worse, and asthma medication makes GERD worse, how do you break the cycle? Often the answer is to focus on your GERD and get it under control. Once your acid reflux goes down, your asthma symptoms will likely get better.

Your doctor can help you decide whether you need medication for your GERD symptoms. Theyà may suggest you start with over-the-counter medicines like:

  • Antacids, which neutralize acid in your stomach
  • H2 blockers, which keep your body from making as much acid
  • Proton-pump inhibitors, which can reduce the amount of acid your body makes

Sometimes, though, you need prescription medication to get GERD symptoms under control. In rare cases, your doctor will suggest surgery for GERD.There are also things you can do at home to ease your GERD symptoms, like:

  • Sleep with the head of your bed raised 6 to 8 inches so that gravity can help your stomach acid stay in your stomach.
  • Don’t eat for 3 to 4 hours before you lie down to sleep at night.
  • Eat small meals throughout the day instead of three large meals.
  • Lose extra weight that may put pressure on your belly.
  • Stay away from fatty and acidic foods.


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