Many people do not know that a chronic cough can be caused by acid reflux. Very often, it will lead to a chronic or semi permanent acid reflux cough which is common symptom that experienced by acid reflux sufferers.
How does acid reflux result in coughing?
When the acid flows back up the esophagus, the esophagus reflexes which results in a spasm of the airways that can lead to shortness of breath and/or coughing. Thus, a cough can result when certain nerves within the esophagus related to the lungs are irritated, which triggers coughing. Hence, the acid reflux can cause coughing without ever passing into the throat. It is possible that a cough to be the only acid reflux symptom a person experiences.
Those who suffer from chronic cough usually have frequent cases of reflux that are so severe that they can experience the following symptoms:
Throat and larynx inflammation and damage – If refluxed acid enters the throat and voice box it can cause inflammation which can lead to swelling of the throat tissue. The inflammation and swelling can result in a sore throat and hoarsens, causing coughing. Over time, the constant assault of acid on the throat can lead to damaged throat tissue. When the throat is damaged or inflamed, the throat is irritated, and coughing can result.
Aspiration of acid into the lungs – refluxed acid that passes the larynx can invade the lungs. When acid is refluxed into the lungs this is known as aspiration and can result in coughing and choking. Over time, aspiration can cause damage to lung tissue which can lead to fibrosis (progressive scarring). Aspiration can occur with or without symptoms, and can lead to lung infections that result in pneumonia. Aspiration primarily occurs at night because the digestive processes that help to prevent reflux and the coughing reflex that is designed to protect the lungs are inactive.
Bear in mind; even when it is clear that GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) can cause and/or exacerbate coughing, it is still not certain that how often the symptom of coughing is directly related to acid reflux.
More Information ==> The Link Between Coughing and Heartburn
How is chronic cough caused by acid reflux treated?
If you suspect that your chronic cough is caused by acid reflux, the best way to treat your cough is to treat your acid reflux. Firstly, you need to establish whether your chronic cought is the result of yoru acid reflux. If it is so, there is no point for you to take over-the-counter medications which are meant to treat cough due to colds or allergies.
Your aim is to stop the cough by preventing acid reflux. Therefore, the following are some suggestions on how you can attempt to ease a chronic cough:
Lifestyle change: A lifestyle change involves –
Alter eating habits - avoiding foods that are known to trigger acid reflux (I.E. fatty and spicy foods, chocolate, caffeinated beverages, citrus juice and fruits, alcohol, etc.), as well as eating smaller and frequent meals.
Lose weight – if you are overweight, losing weight will take pressure off your lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which reduces the risk of reflux. Engage in exercises such as walking, swimming and cycling. These exercises will not place pressure on your stomach or LES. You should wait for at least an hour after eating before exercising.
Stop smoking – Smoking increases your risk of acid reflux, but it can also exacerbate chronic bronchitis, which could be something you are suffering from if you are a smoker.
Prevent acid reflux while sleeping – Acid reflux is more common when we sleep, because the defenses in the digestive system that help to prevent acid reflux are inactive. Thus, to help stop acid reflux from occurring while sleeping, make sure you avoid eating and drinking two to three hours before you lie down. You should also elevate your head approximately 4 inches when lying down to prevent acid from traveling up your esophagus.
Medications for Acid Reflux: - Taking medications that prevent and block the production of acid such as antacids (Tums) and H2 blockers (Zantac) can help alongside lifestyle changes in alleviating acid reflux symptoms.
Another medication known as a proton pump inhibitor is beneficial for those with GERD because it not only stops acid production, it also allows the esophagus healing time. Medications designed to relieve acid reflux symptoms are generally safe for long-term use, but you should speak to you doctor first, as well as be monitored by your doctor if you decide to take any medications.
Other treatment: If your chronic acid reflux cough is still not easing after trying methods to prevent and relieve acid reflux, it’s time for you to seek the help of your doctor. He or she may prescribe a medication known as a bronchodilator which helps to relax the air passages in your lungs to sooth coughing. This medication or another kind may be provided while the doctor runs tests to see if they can determine the cause of your cough, so that they can provide you with the best treatment method.