Persistent cough/Asthma: It could be more than what meets the eye
Most common causes of cough are asthma, acid reflux, and chronic post nasal drip. Gastroesophageal reflux disease or Acid reflux, and asthma are very common to occur together. In fact, more than 25- 75 percent of patients with asthma also experience acid reflux. Severe chronic forms of asthma should be evaluated for acid reflux which might be playing a role in keeping their asthma uncontrolled. Acid reflux is the backward flow of stomach juices or acid into the food canal aka esophagus. When this acid enters the lower part of the esophagus, it can produce a burning sensation, commonly called as heartburn. If left untreated, acid reflux can eventually lead to aspiration pneumonia; exacerbate sinusitis; asthma exacerbation; esophageal ulcers; Barrett's esophagus and esophageal cancer.
How does acid reflux relate to asthma?
Acid reflux may worsen asthma symptoms as well as mimic asthma symptoms. Treating acid reflux helps improve asthma control. Acid reflux and asthma can be related especially in following conditions: Asthma begins in adulthood; Asthma symptoms get worse after a meal, after exercise, at night or after lying down; Asthma doesn't respond to the standard asthma treatments. What should be done if you have acid reflux and asthma? Control of acid reflux and asthma should go hand in hand. The most important and mandatory step is to compliantly take any asthma and allergy medications recommended to you by your provider.
- Some helpful tips for acid reflux control are as follows:
- Elevate head of the bed 6 inches
- Stop smoking
- Stop excessive alcohol consumption
- Reduce dietary fat, meal size and avoid coffee, tea, sodas with and without caffeine, chocolate, tomatoes (including red sauce), carminatives (spearmint, peppermint), citrus juices
- Avoid bedtime snacks
- Weight reduction, if overweight
When possible, avoid these medications: anticholinergics, theophylline, diazepam, narcotics, calcium-channel blockers, beta adrenergic agonist (isoproterenol), progesterone, alpha adrenergic antagonists (phenotolamine). Over-the-counter antacids can often relieve acid reflux symptoms. However, if after one to two weeks these medications do not help with your symptoms, you should consult your primary care provider or specialist.