Acid Reflux Coughing

Acid Reflux CoughingOne of the most common (and undiagnosed) symptoms of acid reflux disease (GERD) is chronic cough. That is an amazing fact, but true. Nearly 75% of all acid reflux sufferers have a chronic cough and may not even realize that it is being caused by their GERD problems.

To make matters worse, many people with a chronic cough donít even know they have GERD which could increase their symptoms and the damage that is being inflicted on their esophagus.

How to Determine If Your Chronic Cough is GERD Related

So how can you know for sure if that nagging cough is just a side effect of acid reflux disease or caused by something else?

There are several things to look at when determining the source of your cough.† First, do you have any other signs of infection or a cold/flu?† If you do not have the sniffles, fever, post nasal drip, aches and pains, etc., chances are that your cough is not bacterial or viral in nature.

Secondly, consider when your cough is most prevalent: during the day? At night? After meals?† A chronic cough that worsens at night (when you are lying down and acid reflux is at its worse) or after meals may indicate that GERD as the cause.

Finally, consider what other symptoms you have.† If you are also experiencing a chronic sore throat, bad taste in the back of your throat, indigestion and even fatigue, you may want to talk to your doctor about the possibility that GERD is causing your chronic coughing.

Why Acid Reflux Causes a Cough

Most people never associate a chronic cough with acid reflux and for a good reason: acid reflux is considered a gastrointestinal issue and a cough is not. But letís look at how a GERD cough develops and you will soon see the connection between the two.

When you have acid reflux, the sphincter muscles which connects the esophagus and the stomach gets stuck in the open position (even if just a little bit).† After you eat, that flap is supposed to close to allow the acid, bile and pepsin being produced in the stomach to break down the food and send it through the rest of the digestive system.

Unfortunately, if the sphincter flap remains open, some of that acid and bile may regurgitate back into the esophagus and into the lower airway. This can cause irritation and inflammation in the throat, which of course can cause you to cough as your body tries to clear the airway.† In addition, nerves in the airway may become irritated, resulting in a cough.

In more severe cases, the larynx itself may become swollen or even damaged and this will result to a hoarse voice and a chronic cough.

But, that is not all.† When a person with acid reflux experiences severe bouts of coughing, aspiration should be suspected and this could be very serious since lung damage may occur if the acid reflux is not reversed.

Stopping an Acid Reflux Cough

Although coughing may be only one sign of acid reflux, it is one that needs to be taken seriously. Usually, a chronic cough only appears after some sort of damage to the throat has taken place.† If left untreated, that damage could become permanent or even lead to other serious health concerns.

There are plenty of ways to stop an acid reflux cough. The first is to see your doctor and let him determine the best choice of treatment.† Still, there are some things that every acid reflux patient can do to help reverse their GERD and heal their throat.

Find the Right Medication

Most doctors will begin treatment with over the counter antacids and then progress to stronger prescription strength once they can monitor the patientís progress.

Lose Weight

Excess weight can put pressure on your stomach, forcing acids back up through the esophagus.

Prevent Acid Reflex While Sleeping

Since the vast majority of GERD symptoms and negative effects occur during the night, it is important for those prone to the disorder to take the necessary precautions :

  • sleep with your head elevated at least six inches above the rest of your body
  • donít eat within three hours of going to bed at night
  • avoid greasy, fatty and spicy foods (all day long)

Stop Smoking

Smoking cigarettes and cigars can weaken the tissue in the throat, making them more susceptible to acid reflux damage.

Acid reflux can cause all sorts of side effects, including a chronic cough. If you have a cough that wonít quit and canít figure out why, be sure to look for other signs of acid reflux and talk to your doctor.† Not figuring out your coughís true cause could do more harm than you realize.

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