Home > Health Resources > Asthma and GERD
View Additional Section Content
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 haveasthma. 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 haveheartburn-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.
For more information about GERD, see the topic Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).
Gibson PG, et al. (2003). Gastro-esophageal reflux treatment for asthma in adults and children. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (1). Oxford: Update Software.
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.
Khoshoo V, et al. (2003). Role of gastroesophageal reflux in older children with persistent asthma. Chest, 123(4): 1008-1013.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerElizabeth T. Russo, MD - Internal Medicine
Current as ofDecember 6, 2017
Current as of:
December 6, 2017
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Elizabeth T. Russo, MD - Internal Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2018 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
2700 Clay Edwards Drive, Ste 240, North Kansas City, MO 64116