Connection between acid reflux and asthma

I was diagnosed with a hiatus hernia and Barrett's Oesophagus in November and feel there is a real connection between this and my asthma. Could it have been caused by years of asthma inhalers? I have read from past posts that a lot of asthma people have also got acid reflux. Could this have caused my hiatus hernia thus leading onto Barrett's? Am I the only one who thinks this as my doctor doesn't! I have an appointment tomorrow with my asthma consultant at the chest clinic and I need to raise all these questions with him but whether I get anywhere remains to be seen. I feel the acid irritates the lungs and definitely causes asthma like symptoms and then I have been given steroids and antibiotics from my GP for chest infection when maybe it is the acid! How do you know the difference between the two? When I wake in the morning I can hardly breath but when I get up it passes. I have a chesty cough which I thought was asthma but now think it could the acid irritating the lungs. I am now on Lanzaprazole which I have to take for life because of the Barrett's. Sorry to ramble on but I just want to know what other people think and if anyone else has these problems.

30 Replies

  • Well, I've been on inhalers for over forty five years but have only had acid reflux issues for the past eight years - and until four years ago those issues were sporadic. We still don't know why I suddenly developed them - except that the initial trigger for them was not asthma related; in fact it followed on from a very bad dose of norovirus (or something like it). I do have a separate medical condition which might well be a contributory factor, as might menopause and age (my understanding is that the sphincter muscle at the top of the stomach can become less effective as you get older). An MRI scan last year revealed nothing.

    There has certainly been one occasion when what I thought was asthma turned out to be asthma like symptoms resulting from silent reflux. That was nearly five years ago. The reason we knew it was acid related (as opposed to asthma) was because the symptoms were atypical for me. I was having breathing problems within forty five minutes of eating or drinking. What was more, getting up and moving around actually helped - which was again unusual for an exercise induced asthmatic. I was put on lanzoprazole for it - problem solved.

    So with me, it all depends on whether any breathing issues occur within forty five minutes of eating having not been present before. But it may be different with others.

  • Hi my names hayley for four years i was treated for asthma which i didnt actually have ive got a hiatus hernia which is due op soon and vocal cord dysfunction i was given mulcadine originally which i found out other day is dangerous if youve got gastro problems but because it wasnt diagnosed for four years theyve prob made me worse

  • Hi there,

    Asthma and Acid reflux often go hand in hand. Sometimes its hard to know which came first, however according to some stats. about 70% of people (including kids) who have asthma also have some problems with acid reflux but may not even have symptoms. There are some components of LABA's and LAMA's that can exacerbate acid reflux. So it is not a one way street. There is a book, which has just been published by an american called the Acid Watcher Diet, a 28 day healing and prevention program. Anyhow you might like to search it out online. It's pretty interesting.

    It is worth talking to your consultant about this. Part of the problem is that, Gastroenterologists and Respiratory consultants have different specialites and never the twain shall meet. It may be worth trying to find a Respiratory Consultant who has expertise in this area. You can try by looking for relevant research papers, and then seeing if individuals who look interesting have a clinic you can go to.



  • Once upon a time specialists used to compare notes with other areas of specialisation - now they don't.

    I know a bit about the scientific world. My husband did a Ph.D at one of the world's top ranking universities, my son is due to finish his Ph.D in another such later this year - both in sciences. They both understand the importance of being prepared to discuss another area of specialisation with experts in that field if it might be impacting on theirs. Sadly the medical profession seem to have forgotten how important this is.

  • They have just not got the time now unless you see a Consultant privately and pay. I went to see an Opthalmologist consultant privately a few times and she did write to my ENT consultant telling him what not to prescribe me which may affect my eyes and told him what was going on. I don't think I this would have happened on the NHS!

  • I think there's more to it than that. I had this problem years ago when my two grown up children were babies. The NHS then was not in the situation it's in now.

  • Thank you all for your replies. I am going to my Consultant tomorrow at the asthma clinic and ask him questions. I know it is too late now as I have a hiatus hernia and Barrett's but maybe I can stop it getting any worse. It has been a really scary time for me this last couple of months but I will do what I am told by both consultants even though I have my doubts! Will let you know how I get on tomorrow xx

  • Good luck for tomorrow! the whole lot of meds have side effects, difficult to pinpoint which one made you more sensitive..honestly I haven't had much luck with medication either..after years of intake it is bound to affect your body somehow..

  • Thank you. I am really sensitive to medication and whatever side effects are going you can bet I will get them! Don't hold out much hope with my Consultant at the chest clinic tomorrow but I can only but try. He will probably say ask your doctor or gastric consultant like they do!

  • I've been told (by someone who was married to a consultant physician) that once upon a time (many decades ago) consultants of different specialities used to discuss complex cases in order to solve problems. These days they don't seem to do that. I was told by one consultant gastroenterologist (not the one whose list I'm on now) that I should ask my GP to refer me to a respiratory consultant to have my asthma reviewed. I had been diagnosed with oesophageal thrush; the gastroenterologist was blaming it on my inhalers and he made it pretty clear that coming off them should be considered.

    When I finally got to see the respiratory consultant three months later he came down on my side and made it clear that coming off my inhalers was not an option - he even copied the gastroenterologist in on the report letter sent to my GP following on from my appointment.

    I have often wondered why the gastroenterologist just didn't ask the respiratory consultant "I have a patient with oesophageal thrush, I think her inhalers caused it, this is what she's on, would she be able to come off them?" Instead everything was held up for three months and I took up an appointment that probably could have been better used by someone else.

    Exasperated sigh!

  • I wish consultants would "talk" to each other now especially when one prescribed medication can cause other complaints. I also get sinus and was prescribed Flixonase by ENT which is a steroid spray and I was on it for seven years without a review. I was then diagnosed with glaucoma and my eye consultant told me to stop Flixonase immediately. I then researched the connection and learnt that long term use of Flixonase can damage the optic nerve and cause glaucoma. Why wasn't I warned about such risks. You are supposed to trust your consultant but sometimes I feel they don't know enough about what can cause other medical conditions. I sometimes feel I know more about my own health than they do! We have to take responsibility for our own health and learn as much as we can even if it is off Google!

  • Hi I have hiatus hernia and asthma. The hiatus hernia has been since twin pregnancy. If it is playing up it can trigger my asthma.

    I also have food sensitivites and lots of allergies. I don't know how they all connect but am interested to know if they do.

    Good luck with consulant 😊 xxx

  • Went to the chest clinic and I questioned him about asthma and acid. He said inhalers do not contribute to hiatus hernias or Barrett's Oesophagus. However acid does irritate the lungs and sometimes it is hard to know if it is the acid or asthma. He told me to increase the Lanzaprazole for a few days to see if that helps and if it does it is the acid. If not increase the preventative to three times a day and use the Ventolin as well for a few days. If that works it is the asthma. If not then take some antibiotics and steroids as may have chest infection. I had an allergy blood test the last time I went and it showed I was allergic to grass and tree pollen. Also the nurse took my blood pressure when I got there and she said it was high. I have never had high blood pressure in my life so that was a bit of a concern. She said I will take it again before you leave which she did and it was still high! She told me to go to my doctors. Now I am worrying about that as well as I know absolutely nothing about blood pressure readings or what causes it to be high. He listened to my chest which he said was clear. I have got to go back soon to have breathing tests and compare it with my last tests. He was quite approachable and answered all my questions.

  • I am an asthmatic who has acid reflux but I know I get mine due to stress I have never really noticed the acid reflux causing me asthma problems

    Good luck 👍

  • Very interesting post everyone. I have developed acid reflux too about an hour after the meals of the day. I been taking Gavestin advance for 3 wks after meals. If I forget I will still get acid refux. I going back to the GP who suggested I try this. I also spoke to asthma uk helpline and they said it was very common to have acid reflux and explain it all.

    I think mine as worsen because of the stress I under due to family pressures. My asthma has stayed rock solidly good. Peak flow is stop on. Aching yesterday in the chest as its very cold. One of my triggers. Lanzoprazole sound like a good idea for me to be on.

    My diet is very acid neutral as I have another condition which forbids all acidic foods.

    I hope all who are on this post that they get help with their acid Reflux and stay well.

  • I was like you and kept going back to the doctors about reflux and this went on for over two years. Eventually I insisted on an endoscopy and it was found I had a hiatus hernia and Barrett Oesophagus! If your acid reflux continues perhaps you can suggest an endoscopy to put your mind at rest.

  • I would be very interested to know what you eat on your acid neutral diet as I was thinking of going to a dietician for help and support xx

  • Hi Karjade I have Interstitial cystics so precludes all the above triggers that have been talked about in the post the list of safe foods, foods to try and foods to avoid is very longer so I posting a link here so you can studying it yourself.

  • Thank you so much. It seems very interesting and I will study it and hope it helps xx

  • Hi as promise an update. I been back to the doctors and explained that even though I taken glavison advance for three weeks if I miss a dose the heartburn/acid reflux comes back. I was careful to mention that I am asthmatic, have a neutral acid diet (see IC), under alot of stress, I have had acid reflux before and taking Cimeterdine (for my IC this can help with acid reflux). I also but on a lot of weight recently and mention that too. I known that doesn't help. I was told Cimterdine is a not strong enough to treat Acid Reflux. So as some of you have said was given a prescription for Omeprazole 20 mg twice a day for two months to see if it helps. Then told to stop the Omeprazole and see if the acid reflux comes back.

    Has anyone had experience on being on this medication. I been told to take it in the morning on an empty stomach. At the moment if you shook me I rattle. :-) I on so many tablets.

  • I've been on lanzoprazole which is in the same group of medications as omeprazole (proton pump inhibitors or PPIs). I believe they work by reducing the amount of acid your stomach produces.

    The only problem I had with them was coming off them. Some people can suffer from rebound after being on them for a while, I was one of them.

  • I MaggieHP I had done a bit of research on the different medication for acid reflux and Lanzoprazole was one of them. You said you been on them for a while what was rebound and what symptoms did it give you. Then what happened next? First tablet tomorrow as prescribed on an empty stomach.

  • I am on Lanzaprazole now after taking three or four different types of PPI's. This one suited me and seemed to work the best. I was concerned of the side effects but my own GP told me he has been on them six years and he is fine. As I have Barrett's Oesophagus I have to stop on them for life so try not to think or read about the long term side effects.

  • I was on them for about three months. As I said, PPIs work by reducing the amount of acid your stomach produces. When you stop taking them that restraining influence is removed. The normal levels of acid production resume very enthusiastically into a stomach that has not been used to those levels for a while. This can result in some discomfort until everything adjusts to the new routine. It did with me. I was on 30mg on lanzoprazole taken once a day.

    If you are concerned about this I do recommend you discuss it with your GP. If your doctor thinks you may have a problem with it he/she may be able to suggest a strategy to help with it when you come off them.

    One other warning: on one occasion when I was put on them it was to counter the effects a course of oral steroids might have on a stomach which was known to be temperamental. I was warned at the time NOT to take the oral steroids and the PPIs at the same time (the recommendation was to leave about four hours between the two).

  • Thank you for information. I not going to think about it until I getting to the end and then I will go back to the doctors for a word.

    Fortunately for me I not on daily oral steroids just Seretide 250 twice a day. I do have rescue steroids at home for if I have an asthma attack.

    Took one this morning and it feels like I being restrained in my stomach. Lots of stresses in my family at the moment and need to lose some weight as I put it on lately due to not been able to exercise. etc.

  • I think the way I did it when I had oral steroids at the same time as PPIs was to take the PPI in the morning around breakfast time and the oral steroids with lunch. That seemed to work OK.

  • I am on steroids and antibiotics for a few days as very slight chest infection but don't want it to get any worse. I took Lanzaprazole about half an hour before the steroids - oops! xx

  • I think possibly the reason I got the warning was because the surgery I go to has an in house pharmacy (being a rural practice). I was prescribed with both medications at the same time (along with a hefty dose of antibiotics) to try and bring the consequences of a very nasty infection under control. It was the pharmacist who brought the medication out to me (it was quite a substantial pile as I'd had to request new reliever and preventer inhalers as well) and it was the pharmacist who issued the warning about not taking the oral steroids and PPIs at the same time.

  • I will space them out. I also have glaucoma so I have to be careful about my eye pressure with the steroids. However my eye consultant said it should not do any harm as I am only on them for five days. Thank you for your advice xx

  • thanks for the comments and thoughts. I hope and pray you stay well on Lanzaprazole. Have a good weekend.

You may also like...