Is there a connection between asthma and acid reflux?

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Asthma and acid reflux often go hand in hand. It is not clear why or whether one is causing the other. However, we do know that acid reflux asthma and asthma can make acid reflux worse – especially severe acid reflux, a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Asthma and acid reflux can coexist in both children and adults. In fact, about half of children with asthma also have GERD.

When asthma and acid reflux occur together, medications may not work as well at controlling signs and symptoms of both conditions, such as cough, shortness of breath, wheezing, and chest pain.

Treating acid reflux can help relieve symptoms. You may be able to control acid reflux with over-the-counter medications – for example, a proton pump inhibitor like omeprazole (Prilosec OTC). Avoiding reflux triggers like fatty foods, alcohol, and tobacco can also help. If that’s not enough, prescription medication may be needed. If you have asthma and think you might have acid reflux, talk to your doctor about the best treatments.

In some cases, asthma medication can make acid reflux worse. This applies in particular to theophylline (Theo-24, Elixophyllin, Theocron). But don’t stop taking or switch asthma medications without your doctor first being okay.

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