GERD and asthma might seem like two distant conditions that have nothing to do with each other, but they’re more closely linked than you think. Asthmatics are up to two times more susceptible to GERD compared to those without. Surprisingly, it is common for asthmatic children to experience this powerful pair, making it worthwhile to understand both conditions in depth.
Let’s break down the basics of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) first.
GERD is a condition characterizing the flow of stomach acid from the stomach to the mouth, through the esophagus (the tube connecting both, sometimes termed the ‘food pipe’). This can cause a burning sensation of discomfort (heartburn) and leave a nasty, bitter taste in your mouth. You could also experience regurgitation of your food, which can lead to strong feelings of nausea.
How do asthma and GERD influence one another?
Acid reflux, a hallmark of GERD, can irritate the respiratory tract, leading to the inflammation or shrinking of airways. This worsens the degree of asthma symptoms. In turn, asthma can also worsen GERD. During an asthma attack, pressure from the lungs can result in the relaxation of certain muscles and reduce their ability to guard against acid reflux.
How can I identify if I have asthma-influenced GERD?
The best way would be to seek a doctor’s diagnosis, but here are some indicators you can observe:
- Your asthma symptoms worsen after eating GERD-unfriendly foods. These include spicy, caffeinated, alcoholic, oily or acidic foods.
- Your asthma shows an adverse reaction to asthma medications. This is because some of them could have side effects that negatively affect GERD.
- You have uncontrolled asthma that becomes more disruptive when you sleep. When you lie down, gravity works against you and can encourage the flow of stomach acid back up your esophagus.
How can I treat both conditions?
The severity of each condition varies respectively according to the individual’s physiology. Schedule an appointment with your doctor to work out a personalized treatment involving specific types of medication to take, as well as the identification of certain triggers that relate to your asthma and GERD.