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Guess What Condition Could Be Making Your Asthma Worse (Hint: It’s Reflux)

Photo credit: Getty Images/ Patrick Heagney

Photo credit: Getty Images/Patrick Heagney

Managing your asthma symptoms seem tougher than usual? Your GI system could be to blame.

Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) is a potential trigger of asthma. GERD symptoms are more prevalent in asthma patients compared to the general population and should be considered in all patients with asthma.

With GERD, stomach acids weaken the muscles that separate your stomach from your esophagus. This irritation causes damage in your throat, narrowing your airways and making it even more difficult to breathe. That’s why detection of a GI disease is so important for both adults and children who have asthma.

Besides triggering asthma, other symptoms of GERD can include frequent clearing of the throat, sore throat, hoarseness, coughing, problems swallowing, feeling that food is stuck in your throat, pain in the chest or the classic symptom: Heartburn.

For most patients, GERD is a manageable condition. Eliminating the foods that cause stomach acid to backflow into the esophagus can help. These foods include chocolate, caffeine, fatty foods, alcohol and peppermint. In addition, a two to three month trial of anti-reflux medication will determine if GERD is what’s triggering your asthma. If GERD is the cause, asthma medications can often be reduced once your GERD is under control.

The team at Allergy & Asthma Specialists is here to help with managing your asthma and asthma triggers such as GERD. Once your GI reflux is diagnosed, a plan to alleviate GERD through lifestyle changes—like elevating your head six inches when you sleep to help keep your stomach contents where they’re supposed to—as well as anti-reflux medications should help you breathe easier. Asthma sufferers who take GERD medications should notice an overall improvement in their asthma symptoms.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit the Allergy & Asthma Specialists website or call 1-800-86-COUGH.