What Does Acid Reflux Have to Do with It?

Your chronic cough may be related to acid reflux

(RxWiki News) Acid reflux may be the cause of your chronic cough.

A “chronic” cough lasts for more than eight weeks and is often thought to be the result of a lingering infection. But your chronic cough may not be due to an infection after all.

Acid reflux, otherwise known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), may actually be the cause of some cases of chronic cough.

Many patients with GERD experience a hacking dry cough, and some may experience this at night. Some health experts have reported that 25 percent or more of chronic cough cases are tied GERD. However, this does not necessarily mean that GERD is the cause of chronic cough in many of the people included in this number.

GERD affects many Americans, and chronic cough is estimated to affect 11 percent of the US population. However, it’s difficult to determine the actual percentage of chronic cough that GERD is causing.

Other issues can cause a chronic cough. These include asthma, nonasthmatic eosinophilic bronchitis and upper airway cough syndrome, otherwise known as postnasal drip syndrome.

Your doctor will investigate the cause of your cough and tailor the treatment to you.

If your doctor determines that your chronic cough is indeed caused by GERD, you may be prescribed proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) for a certain amount of time, in addition to certain lifestyle changes. PPIs are medications used to treat GERD.

Lifestyle changes may include the following:

  • Sleeping at an elevated position (for those with nighttime acid reflux issues)
  • Quitting smoking
  • Losing weight
  • Eating a low fat-diet (fewer than 45 grams per day)
  • Avoiding food and beverages two to three hours before bed
  • Trying not to overeat
  • Avoiding foods and beverages with a pH of less than 5
    • Beverages to avoid: alcohol, coffee, tea and cola
    • Foods to avoid: chocolate, mint, onions and citrus

If you have been dealing with a cough for several weeks, speak with your health care provider.

Written by Anyssa Garza, PharmD, BCMAS


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