WellSpan Home

Asthma and GERD

Topic Overview

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is the abnormal backflow, or reflux, of stomach juices into the esophagus, the tube that leads from the throat to the stomach.

GERD is found in many people who have asthma. Having asthma increases the chances of developing GERD.

Some experts debate whether or to what extent GERD makes asthma worse. Studies have shown conflicting results as to whether GERD triggers asthma.footnote 1

Those experts who believe GERD does trigger asthma theorize that the abnormal backflow of stomach juices irritates nerves in the esophagus. This could make the smooth muscles of the bronchial tubes tighten, causing airway narrowing. Or food may back up into the throat and airway, causing direct irritation of the bronchial tubes.

People with asthma who have heartburn —after meals, when they bend over, or when they lie down—may need to be treated for GERD. If you have persistent nighttime asthma symptoms, especially coughing and wheezing, GERD could be making your asthma symptoms worse. Simple steps you can take that may reduce the symptoms of GERD include losing weight (if needed), eating a low-fat diet, raising the head of your bed, and not eating for at least 3 hours before you go to bed.

Studies show mixed results on whether treatment for GERD improves asthma symptoms or lung function or reduces the need for medicines.

  • One review of studies concluded that treatment for GERD did not result in consistent improvement in asthma symptoms.footnote 1
  • One study showed that people with poorly controlled asthma and GERD who received GERD treatment using esomeprazole did not have any significant improvement in their asthma.footnote 2
  • Another study noted that after taking medicines for GERD (proton pump inhibitor and a prokinetic agent) for 6 months, older children with GERD and asthma needed less asthma medicine.footnote 3

For more information about GERD, see the topic Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).

References

Citations

  1. Gibson PG, et al. (2003). Gastro-esophageal reflux treatment for asthma in adults and children. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (1). Oxford: Update Software.
  2. American Lung Association Asthma Clinical Research Centers (2009). Efficacy of esomeprazole for treatment of poorly controlled asthma. New England Journal of Medicine, 360(15): 1487–1499.
  3. Khoshoo V, et al. (2003). Role of gastroesophageal reflux in older children with persistent asthma. Chest, 123(4): 1008–1013.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerElizabeth T. Russo, MD - Internal Medicine

Current as ofDecember 6, 2017


Are you sure you would like to cancel?

All information will be lost.

Yes No ×

About the provider search

This search will provide you with WellSpan Medical Group and Northern Lancaster County (Ephrata) Medical Group primary care physicians and specialists. If we don’t have a WellSpan Medical Group physician to meet your criteria, the search will expand to include community physicians who partner with WellSpan Medical Group physicians through the WellSpan Provider Network or provide care to patients on the Medical Staffs of WellSpan’s Hospitals.

×

Schedule Your Next Appointment Online with MyWellSpan

Use your MyWellSpan patient portal any time to view available appointments, and pick the date and time that best suits your schedule.

Go to MyWellSpan

New to this practice?

If you don't have a WellSpan primary care provider and would like to schedule a new patient appointment with a provider who is accepting patients, just log into your MyWellSpan account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to see the offices that are accepting new patients in relation to your zip code. If you are not enrolled in MyWellSpan, go to https://my.wellspan.org, call 1-866-638-1842 or speak with a member of the staff at a participating facility to sign up. New patient scheduling not available at all practices/programs.

Already a patient at this practice?

If you already have a relationship with a WellSpan practice, simply log into your account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to schedule an appointment with any provider or practice that already counts you as a patient. Online scheduling varies by practice/program.

×