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Asthma Health Center

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Heartburn and Asthma

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What Should I Do If I Have Asthma and GERD?

If you have both asthma and GERD, it is important that you consistently take any asthma and GERD medications your doctor has prescribed, as well as control your exposure to asthma triggers as much as possible.

Fortunately, many of the symptoms of GERD can be treated and/or prevented by taking steps to control or adjust personal behavior. Some of these steps include:

  • Raise the head of your bed by six inches to allow gravity to help keep the stomach's contents in the stomach. (Do not use piles of pillows because this puts your body into a bent position that actually aggravates the condition by increasing pressure on the abdomen.)
  • Eat meals at least three to four hours before lying down, and avoid bedtime snacks.
  • Eat smaller meals with moderate portions of food.
  • Maintain a healthy weight to eliminate unnecessary intra-abdominal pressure caused by extra pounds.
  • Limit consumption of fatty foods, chocolate, peppermint, coffee, tea, colas and alcohol -- all of which relax the lower esophageal sphincter -- and tomatoes and citrus fruits or juices, which contribute additional acid that can irritate the esophagus.
  • Give up smoking, which also relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter.
  • Wear loose belts and clothing.

Aside from these steps, over-the-counter treatments can often help relieve GERD symptoms. However, if after two weeks these medications do not help with your symptoms, your doctor may recommend prescription-strength medications that block or limit the amount of acid your stomach produces. Under rare severe circumstances, surgery may be needed.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on January 21, 2015
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