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What Can I Do When Asthma and GERD Occur Together?

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Updated November 08, 2010

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Question: What Can I Do When Asthma and GERD Occur Together?
Answer:

When you have asthma and gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD) together, treating your GERD may lead to better asthma control. There are a number of things you can do before taking medication to try and get your GERD under control to improve your asthma. Try any of the following lifestyle changes to decrease your acid reflux symptoms:

  • Do not eat before bed. By eliminating eating and drinking three hours before going to bed or lying down, you decrease the risk of food in the stomach that can reflux and worsen your asthma symptoms.

  • Eat smaller meals. Overeating is one of the causes of GERD, and eating less may decrease the risk of GERD.

  • Let gravity work for you. By raising the head of your bed by six inches, gravity will keep what is in your stomach near the bottom, making acid reflux less likely.

  • Lose weight. Obesity increases your risk of worsening GERD and asthma. All those extra pounds increase pressure in your belly and make acid reflux worse.

  • Watch what you eat. If your asthma and GERD symptoms occur after eating a high-fat meal or other foods known to increase acid reflux (such as alcohol, chocolate, or caffeine), you may need to decrease your intake of these foods.

  • Avoid sodas. All carbonated drinks increase your risk of GERD.

  • Quit smoking. Smoking can make your asthma and GERD worse. Not only is smoking a direct irritant to your lungs, but smoking also increases acid reflux.

  • Loosen your belt. Tight pants or belts increase the pressure in your abdomen and can worsen acid reflux.

If none of these lifestyle changes work for your asthma and GERD, over-the-counter medications may be the next step. Some commonly known brands include:

  • Axid
  • Pepcid AC
  • Prilosec OTC
  • Tagament
  • Zantac

If your symptoms persist or if you are concerned about your asthma and GERD, make sure to talk to your doctor.

Source:

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health. Accessed September 25, 2010. Heartburn, Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER), and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

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