Has anyone experienced indigestion as a side effect of inhaler?

As above really.

I'm still fairly new to all this as only began inhaler therapy in March. Originally put on Ventolin but I was suffering sore/raw throat/chest and indigestion-like discomfort. Nurse suggested Spiriva, GP changed my prescription but said to keep Ventolin for reliever if necessary.

Better on Spiriva and talking to nurse it was probably the propellant in the Ventolin inhaler causing the sore/raw throat/chest so she changed it to Ventolin dry powder inhaler and said see how it goes. I was still getting the indigestion-like discomfort so she's suggested a change to Bricanyl as a reliever and I'm waiting to see GP to get prescription changed.

I'm not using the reliever at the moment, just the Spiriva but I do still get some indigestion-like discomfort although not as much. Discussing it with my dentist last week when I updated my medication for their records, she told me that both Spiriva and Ventolin do have side effect of indigestion.

Does anyone else have this or am I just unlucky? What do you use to relieve it? I'd rather use something "natural" than add another drug (with possible side effects) to my growing list.

33 Replies

  • I don't get indigestion from using inhalers. I do get it occasionally but thats just normal, maybe someone will come up with something.

    Lib x

  • Doctor is better than dentist on inhalers I think ask the doctor

  • I am seeing the doctor about it tbo66 but it's a 3 week wait and am holding my breath that my appointment with the only decent one we've got is not cancelled as she keeps getting called away because of family ill health. And there is no other surgery where I live so I can't change.

    I've already discussed it with one of the other doctors just a few weeks after starting on my inhaler and it went like this:

    Me: I'm getting some discomfort, a raw/sore throat and chest and some indigestion-like discomfort in my chest.

    GP: It's not the inhaler. It's indigestion.

    Me: I've never suffered from indigestion before.

    GP: It's indigestion.

    Me: It's only started since I've been on Ventolin.

    GP: It's indigestion.

    Me: It seems strange that if I've not had it before I should get it now since I've been on the Ventolin.

    GP: Has any other medication caused any problems.

    Me: About 40 years ago I was prescribed something for arthritis in my knee which was asprin based and it made me feel nauseous so I don't take asprin now.

    GP: Well, it's stomach acid then, have some Omperazole. Do you want some more Ventolin while I'm doing your prescription?

    So you can understand why I'm hoping to see the other GP.

    In the meantime I had to go to the dentist, updated my medication with her and she had never heard of Spiriva so looked it up. Because I had some decay around a filling she was replacing (because it had come out) we got talking and I mentioned the indigestion-like discomfort and the fact that I'd had problems with Ventolin which weren't so bad with the Spiriva. So she looked up Ventolin as well and discovered they both had side effect of indigestion. Which is something the GP could have discussed with me when I first went to see her but decided to be dismissive instead. So as far as listening to me and being helpful the dentist wins hands down over this particular GP.

  • I know how you fell your GP is trying to say that it's not your inhaler that's causing it. I get indigestion every time i eat maybe some day doctors will be able to cure it

  • I think you are right - my husband is on Sprivia and he suffers with indigestion but more bouts of it - once he starts with it, if can go on for weeks quite severly then just as mysteriously stops. I did read that a lot of COPD sufferers also suffer with indigestion - don't know if it is med. related or another horrid symptom of COPD! If it is bad, ask your Doc to help. Also my husband had similar problems with ventolin inhaler but is OK if he uses his spacer with it. Take care TAD xx

  • Have to say to spite using several different inhalers I have never associated indigestion with them. I agree with TAD if you use a spacer it can illiminate some side effects. I find some drugs make the cough worse and other drugs not for COPD can cause flatulence which is similar to indigestion. I find the triple acting antacids work well as does charcoal a meer old fashioned remedy

  • I've always used a spacer with the Ventolin so I think I must be very sensitive to the propellant to cause the sore/raw throat and chest. I've not had that particular problem with the dry powder Ventolin or the Spiriva.

  • I find the dry powder inhalers do have less side effects, and found using a spacer was best with a propellant inhaler. Don't know what's in the propellant but it suggest some of us are sensitive to it even with spacers.Didn't realise there was a dry powder alternative for ventolin, so thanks for that info.

  • Nice to know I'm not on my own Katie :). The dry powder alternative is Ventolin Accuhaler, my nurse was able to change the prescription as it was the same drug. I'm not using it now because I seem to get other chest discomfort (not just indigestion) when I use Ventolin and am waiting to see my GP to try a different reliever.

  • There are other options to ventolin, my sister used to use one but it's so long ago I can't remember what it was called. So good luck and best wishes on finding one suitable for yourself with less uncomfortable side effects

  • WhAts better to use my inhaler without a spacer or with. I don't even have a spce

  • Deffo spacer, you get 50% more of the medication using one - although they're for the spray type of inhaler, not the powdered ones. There are so many varieties and different ways to take them. X

    PS this post is really old, that's probably why no one replied :)

  • Spacer

  • Yesterday my oesophagus felt as if it was on fire, and I have definitely noticed that my asthma inhalers are the cause.

    My stomach is made of steel, I never get indigestion or tummy ache or anything, but the sprays make my oesophagus burn so it sort of feels like acid or something.

    My lung doc said make sure I take the sprays before a meal (I haven't told him about the burning, that was just his general advice).


  • Like you, Koala, I've never ever had stomach problems/indigestion in my life before and as the drug information book my dentist has mentions indigestion as a side effect, as does the patient information leaflets which come with the inhalers, then it's just too much of a coincidence for it to be anything else.

    No-one's given me any advice about the inhalers so it's interesting to hear that your lung doc says to use before a meal. Up to now I've used the Spiriva after breakfast (as I did with the Ventolin before being changed to Spiriva) so I think from tomorrow I will start using it before breakfast and see if it makes a differene.

  • I agree completely.

    I have been on Ventolin on and off since it first came out and replaced the Intal spinhaler. I'm 46 and have had asthma since early childhood.

    Anyway, in the olden days Ventolin was different, it didn't smell or taste, which it definitely does now. The changes happened when it went CFC free, and I am wondering if we are allergic to the stuff they added.

    Good idea trying it before breakfast, let us know if it helps.

    By the way, is the poodle in your avatar your pet? I've got an apricot standard poodle. I LOVE poodles :-)

    koala x

  • Not a poodle Koala, she is a Bichon Frise. Very often mistaken for a poodle though. The breed came about by crossing a Barbet Water Spaniel with a Poodle a couple of hundred years ago I believe so very easy to see the similarity. I had a black standard poodle many years ago, wanted an apricot one but none available at the time and I needed a dog (ha ha!). Actually we'd lost our labrador a few months earlier and the time was right for another dog and I couldn't wait so a black one it was! Lovely dog he was.

    I'll try the Spiriva before breakfast for the next few days and come back to this post with how it's gone. After a bit of research for a more natural remedy for indigestion I came across information about prebiotics aiding digestion so I started taking them a couple of days ago. Can't say that there's much difference at the moment but there doesn't seem to be any pattern to the discomfort, I can't pinpoint any particular food that sets it off or the size of the meal etc. Even a drink of water with my thyroxine first thing in the morning can bring it on.

    And now the tooth where the filling was replaced last week is playing up, is being more sensitive than usual (I have gum recession) and it's twinging if I use it to bite on something. Looks like I'll have to fit another trip to the dentist in next week <sigh> - I hope the ridiculous amount of money I paid last week covers whatever needs doing now (devoid of NHS dentists where I live, no choice but private when I moved here). Feeling a bit cheesed off at the moment, could do with something yummy but naughty and I've nothing in the house except healthy stuff like fruit and yogurt!

  • Oh, a Bichon Frise, they are adorable too! Yes, apricot poodles are harder to find, I searched for a long time to find him. I love the red ones too.

    As for thyroxine giving you the same problem, I know a lot of people take it at night instead, I did for a while but have switched back to the morning and take my iron at night. I take my T3 liothyronine sublingually but I haven't heard of thyroxine being taken that way, maybe it can't be, not sure.

    My nutrition doc put me on probiotics to treat my constipation, over alkaline system and malabsorption of nutrients. I have foudn them very helpful. I don't know if they can reduce indigestion I expect it depends on which type of bacteria because different types apparently inhabit different parts of the intestines etc. I personally think but bacteria are incredibly important and will be researched more in future medicine. They have had a far too low a profile for too long.

    Good luck

    koala xxx

  • Sorry Koala, didn't write that very well. It's not the thyroxine that gives me indigestion, I meant that sometimes it's just a drink of water first thing in the morning that does. It's so random, I'm trying to make sense of it but no succeeding yet.

  • Oh ok, yes I see what you mean.

    I don't know if trying different water would help, so mineral as opposed to tap, or drinking warm liquid rather than cold?

    I know they say thyroxine has to be taken on an empty stomach at least half an hour before food, and to avoid calcium for 4 hours, but I have tested this by taking it in the middle of the night for some weeks, or taking it with my milky porridge, and there was no difference! The only thing for me is that I need a high enough dose and two lots of T3 separated by about 12 hours.

    koala x

  • PS I should have said:

    To ascertain whether there was a difference, I went by how I felt ( the various symptoms) and also blood tests, TSH, fT3 and fT4 which I can get tested here as often as I like.

    koala x

  • As promised Koala, an update as I saw my own GP yesterday. She is the most helpful one at our surgery, listens to what you have to say and is willing to discuss things which the other one didn't.

    As it's the first time I've seen her since I had my diagnosis in March I went through everything with her.

    She agreed the propellant in the Ventolin Evohaler was causing the sore/raw throat and chest and to stay away from propellant meds from now on. She also agreed that the indigestion was side effects from both the Ventolin and Spiriva. She has now changed the Ventolin to Bricanyl (dry powder one again) as a reliever but I haven't started using it yet.

    When I mentioned I was reluctant to take the Omeprazole for the indigestion because of what the patient information leaflet says about osteoporosis she agreed I should not take it.

    I got some prebiotics, used them for a week and the indigestion improved considerably. To make sure it wasn't a fluke I left them off for 6 days before I saw my GP and the indigestion was starting to come back. Discussing this with my GP she said she was quite happy for me to continue with the prebiotics and maybe I will just need a blast with them periodically but see how it goes. I started them again yesterday and hope that after a few more days the symptoms will be much reduced.

    I came away feeling so much better knowing that I wasn't being dismissed and feel that I now have an input with regard to my health care with my GP as well as with the nurse.

    I did start to take the Spiriva before breakfast but can't say I noticed any real difference.

  • Ah I'm on a dark brown preventer inhaler and only used it for a couple of days so far. But the funny thing is that I few days ago I went for an asthma check up and the nurse asked me questions about how often I use my blue inhaler, and I said bout 3 times per day and pretty bad symptoms a swell so she said 'we want to prevent you from getting wheezy and having bad asthma flares, so I'm giving you a brown inhaler'

  • Hello I am on Seretide 500 and Spiriva which also caused me to have indigestion but when I spoke to my doctor she prescribed some indigestion tablets Lansoprazole which works for me, as for the sore throat have you tried gargling and rinsing out your mouth after taking your inhalers as that may help.


  • Hi Stephen. The doctor did give me some Omeprazole (probably the same sort of thing as yours) but when I read the patient information leaflet I was concerned about "Taking a proton pump inhibitor like Omeprazole, especially over a period of more than one year, may slightly increase your risk of fracture of the hip, wrist or spine. Tell your doctor if you have osteoporosis or if you are taking corticosteroids (which can increase the risk of osteoporosis)". This is particularly of concern because both my grandmother and mother were diagnosed with osteoporosis although with treatment it hasn't become severe and in my mother's case thankfully no fractures (grandmother was not so lucky). So there's a fair chance I am at risk of osteoporosis and after discussing this with my GP a few years ago I take Osteocare.

    I don't particularly want to get on a merry go round of one drug's side effects requiring another drug to counteract them, and so on, I saw it with my late husband, which is why I would prefer a more natural remedy if possible.

    I have always rinsed and gargled after taking inhalers but I narrowed the sore/raw throat and chest down to the Ventolin, the measured dose one with the propellant, and now I've stopped taking it I no longer have the symptons.

  • Well I know i don't get indigestion from my ventolin inhaler. I must be the foods i. Eating , if anyone wants any advice on this then I will reply back

  • I'd forgotten about this thread, it's so old. I'm not sure whether you're saying your indigestion is not caused by Ventolin so it must be the food in your case, or whether you're saying my indigestion is caused by food. Mine was most definitely not caused by food but by the inhalers.

    It is now very much under control, i.e. I get no indigestion. I have continued to take the prebiotics (one particular brand works well for me). If I have to take antibiotics for an infection then I also take a course of probiotics and continue with the prebiotics. It seems like keeping up a gut full of healthy bacteria is working for me.

  • I took Spiriva for 2 years and had to stop it because of the awful heartburn. Ginger tea helps it, but I changed to an inhaler called Oxis which doesn't give me heartburn, neither does Ventolin, but Oxis is a long acting Bronchodilator like Spiriva and it works well for me.

  • I've just looked up Oxis and there is a warning to discuss with your GP or pharmacist if you have a problem with your thyroid gland. I've been hypothyroid for almost 40 years so that might rule out Oxis for me. However, now I've got the indigestion under control with prebiotics then Spiriva is suiting me at the moment, but thanks for sharing that.

  • I've had bad indigestion for about 2 years before I developed asthma and when I say bad I mean waking up at night coz of it is indigestion linked to asthma

  • yes i do get it sometimes usually when i go to bed & lay down i take a glass of andrews or bicarb

  • Hey is it normal to have exesess mucus problems with asthma

  • I've noticed that since I started taking a preventer inhaler my symptoms have decreased a little if the inhaler works well for you will the doctor still prescribe it

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