How Shortness of Breath May Relate to Acid Reflux

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It is now generally accepted that GER is a causative factor for inducing or worsening certain respiratory symptoms and diseases [2]. GER has also been shown to be associated with obstructive sleep apnea [3]. The respiratory diseases that have most frequently been studied with GER are asthma [4-15] and chronic cough [5, 13, 14, 16-23], but recently many studies have been published on GER and lung transplant (LTx) rejection [24-32]. Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) is commonly associated with respiratory symptoms, either through a vagal bronchoconstrictive reflex or through microaspiration of gastric contents.

People who have asthma may experience wheezing, cough, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. Asthma can begin at any age but with proper management and education, people with asthma can lead normal, active lives. dinner, he popped a couple of antacid tablets to ward off the usual heartburn. But the feeling that he couldn’t quite catch his breath just wouldn’t go away. Throughout the holiday season, the frequent parties and irregular eating schedule only seemed to make his heartburn feel worse than ever before plus he developed a wheezing cough that plagued him late at night.

We are usually unaware that shallow rapid breathing in our chest can contribute to symptoms such as anxiety, neck and shoulder tension, heart palpitations, headaches, abdominal discomfort such as heart burn, acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, dysmenorrhea and even reduced fertility (Peper, Mason, & Huey, 2017; Domar, Seibel, & Benson, 1990). Reviewing respiratory biomarkers in GER leads to several perplexities. First and foremost is the wide definition of GER, which is basically the presence of bothersome symptoms caused by reflux of gastric contents [2]. GER is diagnosed based on widely different questionnaires, sometimes stressing the importance of sleep-related GER and sometimes not. Doing 24-hour esophageal pH monitoring (24 h-pH-m) is sometimes based on only one level of monitoring 5 cm above the lower esophageal sphincter, but sometimes higher (15 cm) as well [62].

The National Institutes of Health report that research is underway to explore the root causes of gastroesophageal reflux disease. Key studies are focusing on the role of hiatal hernia in GERD and the impact of the bacterium, Helicobacter pylori (H.pylori), in causing or preventing various stomach diseases. Scientists expect that application of their research results will improve treatment for GERD and related conditions.

Barrett’s esophagus results when the normal cells of the esophagus are replaced with cells similar to those of the intestine. This increases the risk of esophageal cancer. Developing Barrett’s esophagus does not mean you will get cancer, but your chances of getting cancer will be increased. Your doctor will want to check you on a regular basis in order to detect any cancer in its early stages. People who have Barrett’s esophagus may require periodic endoscopies with esophagus biopsies to check for pre-cancer cells (dysplasia).

Then it measures the pressure that the esophageal muscles make at rest. Upper GI series or barium swallow. This test looks at the organs of the top part of your child’s digestive system. It checks the food pipe (esophagus), the stomach, and the first part of the small intestine (duodenum).

The most common causes of an asthma flare up are infection, exercise, allergens, and air pollution (an irritant). Allergens and irritants are substances found in our everyday environment.

How you breathe (or don’t breathe) not only influences your acid reflux risks, but your breath can also play a crucial role in managing your acid reflux symptoms if you already have gastroesophageal reflux disease. Elderly patients with some chronic conditions are at a higher risk of developing GERD. They may take medications that cause the LES to relax, which can lead to acid reflux. These individuals also tend to have decreased saliva production-problematic, as saliva’s alkaline nature can help neutralize acid.

These studies, however, had no focus on respiratory symptoms. Two different mechanisms are proposed to be responsible for the majority of GER-induced respiratory symptoms and diseases. One involves microaspiration of gastric fluids into the lungs causing irritation and inflammation, and the second bronchoconstriction caused by a vagal reflex from the distal esophagus, induced by acidic reflux to the distal esophagus (Figure 1) [34]. These two mechanisms probably both play a significant role, but to a different extent in different conditions. By breathing deeply and making lifestyle changes that enhance your ability to breathe, you can use your breath as one of many acid reflux management strategies.

A 21-year old student, who has had acid reflux (GERD-gastroesophageal reflux diseases) since age 6, observed that she only breathed in her chest and that there were no abdominal movements. When she learned and practiced slower diaphragmatic breathing which allowed her abdomen to expand naturally during inhalation and reduce in size during exhalation her symptoms decreased. The image she used was that her lungs were like a balloon located in her abdomen. To create space for the diaphragm going down, she bought larger size pants so that her abdominal could spread out instead of squeezing her stomach (see Figure 5). Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) is a growing health problem in the Western world [1].

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