Heartburn and Asthma (cont.)
Does GERD cause asthma?
Although studies have shown a relationship between asthma and GERD, the exact relationship is uncertain. GERD may worsen asthma symptoms, however, asthma and some asthma medications may worsen GERD symptoms. On the other hand, treating GERD often helps to also relieve asthma symptoms, further suggesting a relationship between the two conditions.
Doctors most often look at GERD as the cause of asthma when:
How can GERD affect my asthma?
As previously mentioned, the exact link between the two conditions is uncertain. However, there are a few possibilities as to why GERD and asthma may coincide. One possibility is that the acid flow causes injury to the lining of the throat, airways and lungs, making inhalation difficult and often causing a persistent cough.
Another potential link to asthma for patients with GERD is that when acid enters the esophagus, a nerve reflex is triggered, causing the airways to narrow in order to prevent the acid from entering. This will cause a shortness of breath.
Aside from these possible relationships between asthma and GERD, one study showed there was an increase in the rate of GERD in patients with asthma who were treated with asthma medications known as bronchodilators. However, further studies must be done before the relationship between GERD and these drugs can be fully understood.
What should I do if I have asthma and GERD?
If you have both asthma and GERD, it is important that you consistently take any asthma medications your doctor has prescribed to you, as well as control your exposure to asthma triggers as much as possible.
Fortunately, many of the symptoms of GERD can be treated and/or prevented by taking steps to control or adjust personal behavior. Some of these steps include: