Reflux and asthma heartburn and asthma

Reflux and asthma often go hand in handReflux and asthma – they have nothing at all to do with each other! Thus the first reaction looks with many concerning. On closer inspection, however, they unfortunately have to realize: This is not quite true. There is actually a very close connection between reflux and asthma. But what does the? How reflux can cause coughing, asthma and other respiratory problems?

How reflux can trigger asthma

Reflux and asthma heartburn and asthma

In reflux, the acidic contents of the stomach manage to overcome the barrier between the esophagus and the stomach: The lower sphincter of the esophagus is weakened or can no longer withstand existing prere and opens up. This is how the
Food pulp in the wrong direction and gets back into the esophagus.

Fatal is this particularly because of the stomach acid mixed under it. It attacks the unprepared cells in the esophagus. Heartburn, acid regurgitation and difficulty swallowing are the typical consequences of reflux. So far so good. But what does this have to do with asthma?

Quite simply: the stomach contents flowing back do not necessarily remain "only" in the esophagus or mouth. Especially when lying down, it can even enter the trachea. The gastric acid in the stomach then also ruthlessly makes its way here: it irritates and damages the cells of the respiratory tract. To the typical consequences of reflux and heartburn are therefore still

– laryngitis, – frequently recurring or chronic bronchitis, and – asthma. respiratory tract symptoms usually appear much more acute than digestive tract symptoms. Are rarely associated with diseases such as reflux. In addition, there may be another problem: Silent reflux causes no or very few typical symptoms and therefore usually remains undetected for a long time. As a cause of asthma, cough and Co. it is only exposed – if at all – at a very late stage.

Asthma caused by heartburn – consequences and symptoms

Usually asthma develops in connection with allergies and/or an extraordinarily strong inflammation of the lower respiratory tract. Is reflux responsible for asthma, develops the chronic inflammatory disease due to the refluxing gastric acid: It irritates the cells in the trachea, bronchi and bronchioles, causing constant inflammation.

The Symptoms are the same in each case:

– Seizure-like shortness of breath – shortness of breath – strong, dry cough, especially in the morning – tightness in the chest – wheezing (whistling noises when breathing)

As with "normal" bronchial asthma, those affected by reflux asthma are hypersensitive to certain stimuli in their environment. Factors such as cold ambient air, infections, exertion or certain allergens (for example pollen or dust mites) can trigger or intensify the symptoms.

Patients in whom reflux triggers cough and other asthma symptoms often have their nocturnal worsening of the symptoms to observe. This is due to the fact that at night – in a lying position – it is relatively easy for the stomach contents to flow back. In this way, significantly more stomach acid reaches the throat area and from there into the respiratory tract. Heartburn and asthma are particularly pronounced at night.

Treatment and diagnosis of asthma caused by reflux

The diagnosis of reflux-related asthma is not easy: Often the focus is on the patient's breathing difficulties. Once a trigger is found, such as bronchitis or asthma, treatment usually focuses on this factor. In most cases of asthma, there is an Permanent therapy the use of cortisone-containing medications in powder form, supported by Demand medication, which provide relief during the acute attack.

Caution with asthma medication

The intake of some active ingredients in asthma therapy, such as theophylline, also leaves its mark on the sphincter between the esophagus and the stomach. To dilate the airways, these substances act relaxes the smooth musculature – as it is also present in the lower sphincter. If the patient inhales the powder medication as prescribed, a small amount of it inevitably enters the esophagus. As a result, this can contribute to the development of heartburn.

Only when the prescribed treatment does not have a sufficient effect do doctors become suspicious: What is behind the complaints?? Many experts therefore recommend from the beginning a test for reflux in the diagnosis of asthma. In this way, countless sufferers could be effectively helped from the outset.

Ideally, therefore, the diagnosis of asthma due to reflux should include a gastroscopy or 24-hour pH-metry (testing of pH levels in the stomach and esophagus), which allows the physician to confirm or refute the presence of a reflux disease. If reflux is suspected or has been proven beyond doubt, the administration of proton pump inhibitors is the most suitable way to treat the symptoms. You reduce the formation of aggressive gastric acid and thus ensure that less irritating acid reaches the respiratory tract. In severe cases, reflux surgery may also be indicated.

But beware: Even if existing reflux is treated, asthma patients cannot do without their asthma-specific treatment. The development and symptoms of asthma are very complex – once the disease has developed, it often persists for a long time.

If Jenni Graf could see blood, she would have become a doctor – but since that's unfortunately not the case, she opted for the much less bloody profession of medical editor. After studying medical journalism, she joined kanyo ® in 2016 .

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