Asthma and Acid Reflux


Shortness of breath is one of the most frightening symptoms for people with acid reflux and its chronic form, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD can cause shortness of breath due to bronchospasm and when inhaled. In the long run, it can lead to life-threatening respiratory complications.

How does Acid Reflux relate to Asthma?

Dyspnea usually accompanies gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) caused by acid when it is refluxed back into the esophagus which can cause it to narrow. As acid overflows into the larynx, the airways and lungs, it can cause swelling of the airways and the formation of symptoms of atypical asthma.

These injuries can greatly affect the respiratory capacity because they cause coughing, wheezing and swallowing of solid foods becomes more difficult.

Patients with GERD may have difficulty breathing alone, but in some cases progress to bronchial asthma. These two diseases have a certain relationship. In fact, the clinic research estimates that:

  • About three-fourths of patients with bronchial asthma also suffer from GERD
  • People with asthma who are asthmatic are twice as likely to have GERD as those without asthma
  • Patients with chronic bronchial asthma who are resistant to treatment are among the highest risk factors for GERD.

Patients with asthma associated with GERD can aggravate asthma symptoms, so treatment with GERD will also help improve asthma. The following cases of bronchial asthma are usually believed to be caused by GERD:

  • Bronchial asthma begins as adults
  • Symptoms of asthma are worse after stress, after eating, exercising, lying down or at night
  • Asthma does not respond to standard therapy

Lifestyle changes may help improve the condition

When breathing problems are closely related to GERD, some tips below can help you prevent and sometimes treat the disease. Usually, the most effective measure to prevent GERD is to change some habits.

  • Change in eating habits: eat smaller portions per meal and split into smaller meals throughout the day, avoiding meals before bed.
  • If you are overweight then you should exercise to lose weight.
  • Identify triggers that cause the onset of GERD symptoms to avoid. Just as if tomato sauce causes you to have acid reflux, avoid eating foods that contain tomato sauce.
  • Quit smoking: Stomach can irritate the symptoms of GERD.

If lifestyle changes alone do not improve breathing dysfunction associated with acid reflux, physicians may adopt esophageal stricture techniques to enlarge the esophagus, using some GERD medications. And in some cases, surgery may be indicated. 

Tips for relieving GERD symptoms

There are some tips that will help you reduce the symptoms of GERD.

You can put the bed head higher than about 10 – 20 cm so that when sleeping, the food still slopes down the stomach without reflux back into the esophagus. You should not put too many pillows around your bed when you sleep because they will put your body in the wrong posture and aggravate the symptoms of GERD. Also, avoid wearing belts or too tight clothing to put pressure on the abdomen.

In case you just have acid reflux associated with bronchial asthma, continue treatment with asthma drugs have been prescribed for the treatment of heartburn while minimizing the maximum exposure to triggers asthma attacks and acid reflux.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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