This article explains the relation between Heartburn and Asthma
Heartburn and asthma
It is estimated that more than 75% of people with bronchial asthma also suffer from severe heartburn, which is also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). People with asthma have twice the risk of heartburn than those who do not have asthma. Most are predisposed to GERD, those with an acute and chronic form of asthma that reacts poorly to treatment.
GERB is a chronic disease in which gastric acid from the stomach enters the oesophagus. Usually, gastric acid is retained in the stomach by a valve at the end of the oesophagus, called the lower oesophagal sphincter. It happens that the valve is broken. When gastric acid enters the lower part of the oesophagus, it causes a burning sensation, which is considered to be heartburn. In the absence of treatment, GERD can lead to lung damage, an ulcer in the oesophagus (swallow tube) and in some cases to “Barrett’s oesophagus,” which can provoke oesophagal cancer.
Does GERD provoke exacerbation of asthma?
Although studies have shown the relationship between GERD and asthma, in reality, the relationship between them is not completely clear. Since the treatment of GERD can help to cope with the symptoms of asthma, which confirms the relationship between these two diseases.
Doctors consider GERD as the cause of asthma, if:
- Asthma manifested itself in adulthood.
- Symptoms of asthma worsen after eating, exercise, at night or when taking a horizontal position.
- Asthma does not respond to conventional therapies.
How can GERD affect the condition of asthma?
As previously stated, there was no exact relationship between the diseases. However, the explanation of why GERD and asthma may be related exist. First, gastric acid causes damage to the larynx, respiratory tract and lungs, as a result of which inhaling oxygen becomes difficult and often accompanied by a strong cough.
Another possible link between diseases – gastric acid, getting into the oesophagus causes reflex activity, which provokes compression of the respiratory tract. This causes the shortage of air or shortness of breath.
Regardless of the aforementioned links between asthma and GERD, the study showed an increase in the percentage of development of GERD in patients with asthma treated with special medications (bronchodilators).
What if I have asthma and GERD?
If you have asthma and GERD, it is very important to take the medications prescribed by your doctor correctly, and, if possible, to control contact with irritants and pathogens of these diseases.
Fortunately, most manifestations of GERD are treated and/or prevented. For this, it is necessary to follow simple advice. Here are a few of them:
- Raise the head of the bed at 15 cm – which will help to keep food in the stomach. (Do not use a lot of pillows for this purpose, because your body will be in the wrong position, and a bend in the neck and chest will increase pressure on the stomach.)
- Organize meals 3-4 hours before taking a horizontal position, and try to avoid snacks before bed.
Portions should be small, accompanied by a moderate amount of water.
- Maintain a normal weight to prevent unnecessary pressure on the stomach.
- Limit the intake of fatty foods, chocolate, mint foods, tea, cola and alcohol (all this relaxes the lower oesophagal sphincter), tomatoes and citrus or citrus juices (cause the production of more acid that irritates the oesophagus mucosa).
- Quit smoking (smoking also weakens the lower oesophagal sphincter).
- Wear loose clothing and belts.
In addition to the above tips, the symptoms of GERD can alleviate over-the-counter antacids (acidity neutralizers) such as Maalox, Zantac, and the like. However, if after two weeks of regular intake of these medicines there are no improvements, the doctor should prescribe drugs that block or limit the amount of stomach acid produced by your body. In very rare cases, GERD is treated surgically.