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GERD and Asthma… Asthma and GERD

Posted Jan 14 2013 9:37am

As this articlefrom Johns Hopkins will describe, the connection between GERD and Asthma is known, just not completely understood.  It is, however, something that should be treated, as both disease processes can be damaging to your health over time.  Do you share a connection between the two?

Although the connection between GERD and asthma is not well understood, doctors have found that treating your GERD symptoms often relieves your asthma symptoms as well.

Up to 70 percent of people with asthma have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), compared with 20 to 30 percent of the general population. These statistics suggest that if you have severe, chronic asthma, which does not respond well to treatment, you are particularly susceptible to GERD.

What is GERD?

GERD is more than just heartburn, although that is the most common symptom. After you eat, a part of your digestive system called the lower esophageal sphincter normally stays closed as you digest food. But sometimes the sphincter relaxes, letting stomach acid flow back (reflux) into the esophagus. In addition to heartburn, other symptoms of GERD include:

  • Re-tasting your food after eating
  • Difficulty or pain when swallowing
  • Bad breath or sour taste
  • Inflamed gums
  • Excess saliva
  • Chronic sore throat and laryngitis.

The GERD-Asthma Connection

Doctors are not sure exactly what the connection is between GERD and asthma, but there are several theories. If you have GERD, you may be breathing the digestive acid from the reflux into your lungs, where the acid irritates the lung’s lining and causes spasms in the bronchi, resulting in an asthma attack. It is also possible that when acid enters your esophagus, it dissolves the lining and exposes segments of a major nerve that affects the lungs. This triggers a nerve reflex that makes your airways narrow to prevent acid from entering them, thereby causing shortness of breath.

You may have both GERD and asthma if you have:

  • Increased asthma symptoms after you eat or exercise
  • Increased asthma symptoms when you lie down
  • Frequent coughing or hoarseness
  • Asthma that doesn’t respond to the standard asthma treatments.


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