First Time User? Sign Up Now
First Time User? Enroll now.
Home > Health Library > Asthma and GERD
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 have asthma. 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 have heartburn —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.
Current as ofSeptember 5, 2018
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineElizabeth T. Russo, MD - Internal Medicine
Current as of:
September 5, 2018
Medical Review: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.
300 Ashville Avenue
Cary, NC 27518
781 Avent Ferry Road
REX Healthcare of Holly Springs, Suite 200
Holly Springs, NC 27540
4414 Lake Boone Trail
Raleigh, NC 27607
11081 Forest Pines Drive
Raleigh, NC 27614
131 E. Market St.
Smithfield, NC 27577
UNC REX Healthcare 4420 Lake Boone Trail Raleigh, NC 27607, USA 919-784-3100
Chosen for Excellence
Co-Worker & Physician Login
Rex Connects Blog
Copyright 2019 UNC Health Care. All rights reserved.