Two Related Conditions

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology reports that as many as 70 percent of all people who are diagnosed with asthma also have co-existing GERD symptoms, too. In addition, many people with the most severe asthma symptoms that don't seem to respond to traditional treatment methods could find that their condition are actually related to their GERD.

Ironically, you may not automatically think these conditions would go hand in hand, since asthma and GERD occur as the result of two completely processes. While asthma is a disease that causes your airways to spasm, GERD or reflux is actually an action that takes place in the lower part of your esophagus. When GERD occurs, the valve in your digestive system that normally keeps food in your stomach relaxes a little and as a result, lets some of your stomach acid to come back up into your esophagus.

The Asthma and GERD Link

So you may wonder why asthma and GERD seem to go together. In fact, researchers are still unsure of exactly why or how the link occurs. There are several hypotheses that seem to make sense and any, or all, of these can exist.

One possible explanation is that in people with asthma, the changes in chest pressure that occur in an attack can weaken the esophagus muscle and cause the stomach acid to flow back. Another possibility is that when the stomach acid travels back up the esophagus, this can irritate your lungs in some way and make your airways more sensitive to triggers that can cause an asthma attack. In addition, some asthma medications may cause reflux. It is also worth noting that if you are overweight, this factor can be related to both conditions as well.

Regardless of the exact cause and effect chain that exists for you, though, the experts say that if you have asthma and GERD, when this reflux or backward flowing of the stomach acid is left uncontrolled, you may find your asthma symptoms worsening and being difficult to control.

What You Can Do

If you think that GERD could be to blame for causing your asthma, or at least for making it worse, there are several things that you can do. First, the experts suggest looking for signs that could reveal that such a relationship exists. Some symptoms that could be indicative include:

  • Worsening asthma after eating and exercise
  • Asthma symptoms triggered when you lie down
  • Coughing and hoarseness on a regular basis
  • Pneumonia that keeps coming back

If you have these or other signs that make you think you could have an asthma and GERD connection, talk to your doctor about your concerns. He or she can perform some diagnostic tests to see if reflux exists.  If so, there are a variety of lifestyle changes you can make, along with medications you can take, that can help to control asthma and GERD. As result, not only will your GERD symptoms subside, but you will likely find that you are breathing much better, too.


American Academy of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology

Johns Hopkins Medicine

American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology