Can acid reflux cause shortness of breath?

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Could acid reflux be the cause of my shortness of breath?
Yes. The cause of shortness of breath, recurring bronchial infections and chronic asthma in most patients is acid reflux. In fact, 85 percent of all patients diagnosed with asthma have acid reflux as an underlying cause.

But I don’t have heartburn — isn’t that a symptom of acid reflux?
If all patients with acid reflux presented with heartburn and indigestion, the diagnosis would be easy. As a result, patients would take over-the-counter reflux medication for their uncomfortable, “classic” reflux symptoms. But, what happens when you don’t experience these “classic” symptoms? What if you feel short of breath or keep getting bouts of bronchitis? Naturally, you would go to the doctor, possibly have a breathing test and find that your breathing is not good.

Why doesn’t my allergy medicine help?
Often these patients are diagnosed with allergies or asthma, but their allergy medications and inhalers are not working. They are frequently given recurring courses of antibiotics for bronchial infections. In most cases the diagnosis is not correct and the underlying cause — acid reflux — of all of the symptoms is missed.

How can I tell if acid reflux is the cause?
Inspiratory breathing (in-breath) problems are caused by acid reflux; expiratory breathing (out-breath) problems are symptoms of asthma. Ask yourself: “Do I have more trouble breathing in or breathing out?” When breathing problems are recurring for you and you are frustrated with the symptom management, ask your otolaryngologist (ENT) if you have “silent” reflux.

How can I manage my symptoms?
Conservative management, including avoiding eating three hours prior to bedtime, elevating the head of the bed and reducing highly acidic foods can be very helpful. Some patients require reflux medication. The proper diagnosis and treatment can be life-changing for many people.

To find an excellent doctor who is right for you, please call our Physician Referral Service at 866-804-1007.

This article originally appeared on www.HealthBytesNYC.com. Stacey Silvers is an otalaryngologist (ENT) at Beth Israel Medical Center. View more posts by Dr. Silvers.


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