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Asthma And Acid Reflux: A Sinister Marriage Of Two Diseases

Nov 17, 2007
Asthma is among many diseases that cause great distress and even disabilities to millions of sufferers worldwide. Now health professionals have been noticing a fairly consistent correlation between asthma and another troublesome condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease or more generally known as acid reflux. The existence of these two ailments forms an alarming blend of symptoms that are sure to increase the irritation caused by either disease alone.

Various things can start an asthma attack in those people who are prone to this lung disease. For some it takes as little as a small puff of cold breeze, a little whiff of dust, or a tense situation, among many other factors. Now it has been discovered that acid reflux can also start asthma episodes, especially in adult patients.

Acid Reflux: What is it?

When people eat, the food goes through the mouth to the stomach through the throat and the esophagus. The esophagus is a fine tube that connects the throat to the stomach. In some people, the esophagus can get irritated and inflamed because of acid from the stomach backing up into the throat. This backing up of acid is known as acid reflux. Acid reflux can reach high up the throat, causing even more swelling and discomfort or triggering other illnesses such as asthma.

Acid Reflux: What Causes It?

Acid reflux may be caused by a malfunction of the lower esophageal sphincter or LES. The LES acts as the gatekeeper of the stomach. When people swallow, the LES opens to allow food particles and liquid into the stomach. Once food has passed through, the LES closes up to keep the stomach's contents from returning to the esophagus.

Those that have acid reflux may have a faulty LES, which does not close correctly or opens at the wrong times. This allows acid and some digested food particles to return to the esophagus, causing a sensation of burning due to irritation. This results in a condition that most people refer to as heartburn.

The Connection between Acid Reflux and Asthma

It has been observed by many doctors specializing in asthma that asthmatics are also more likely to have a faulty LES. Moreover, many reports have revealed that asthmatics who were treated for acid reflux also experienced some reprieve from the symptoms of asthma.

Acid reflux triggers asthma symptoms in two ways. First, acid reflux may cause people to breathe minute droplets of acid into their lungs without them knowing it. This acid can aggravate the very fragile pulmonary lining and cause spasms in the bronchi or airways, which in turn can result in an asthma attack.

Second, frequent episodes of acid reflux may cause digestive acid to melt away the esophageal lining and expose some parts of important nerves that are connected to the lungs. The irritation of the nerve endings have been observed to also start the constriction of airways, which could then result in an asthma attack.

How to Recognize if Acid Reflux Is Causing Asthma

Asthmatic people may recognize that their asthma attacks are connected to acid reflux if their asthma started in their adult years. Acid reflux is also suspected if asthma symptoms become more apparent after eating a meal, at night, and after lying down for a while. It can also be apparent if the typical asthma treatments don't work.

With the correlation between asthma and acid reflux being recognized, it is therefore sensible to check for gastroesophageal reflux disease. The blending of these two diseases can seriously hinder the quality of one's lifestyle and thus early detection is warranted.
About the Author
Elizabeth Radisson is the editor of http://www.OurGoodHealth.org OurGoodHealth is devoted to providing knowledgeable articles about health-related issues. Visit our website for more information about asthma and acid reflux.
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