Is there a connection between asthma and acid reflux?

Answer From James T C Li, M.D., Ph.D.

Asthma and acid reflux often occur together. It isn't clear why, but it's known that acid reflux can worsen asthma and asthma can worsen acid reflux — especially severe acid reflux, a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Asthma and acid reflux can occur together in children as well as in adults. In fact, about half the children with asthma also have GERD.

Treating acid reflux might help ease symptoms. You may be able to control acid reflux with over-the-counter medications — for example, a proton pump inhibitor, such as omeprazole (Prilosec OTC). Avoiding reflux triggers, such as fatty foods, alcohol and tobacco, also might help.

If that's not enough, you might need prescription medications. If you have asthma and think you might have acid reflux, talk to your doctor about the best treatments.

In some cases, asthma medications can worsen acid reflux. This is particularly true of theophylline (Elixophyllin, Theo-24, Theochron). But don't quit taking or change asthma medications without getting your doctor's OK first.

March 30, 2021