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Can Acid Reflux Cause Shortness of Breath?



Acid reflux can cause shortness of breath.

More Info: Heartburn or reflux itself is caused by stomach acid or undigested food leaking back into the esophagus as a result of the sphincter muscle at the top of the stomach not closing properly. This leakage is what causes the dull pain and can also cause erosion of the esophagus.

Shortness of breath can also occur but does not occur every time acid reflux flares and does not occur with every person. When reflux does cause shortness of breath, the airways are constricted resulting in a lessened amount of oxygenated air getting into the lungs. The stomach acid can travel up the esophagus and into smaller airways or the acid can attack the nerve endings in the esophagus causing the esophagus to contract thereby contracting the airway as well.

Preventing Acid Reflux

Ways of preventing heartburn or acid reflux include avoiding trigger foods such as alcohol, caffeine, tomatoes or highly acidic foods or changing or avoiding certain practices before or after eating such as lying down flat or losing weight. Smoking can also affect acid reflux. Treatment options may include: over the counter antacids, proton pump inhibitors, or H2 antagonists. A doctor may be seen if the heartburn or reflux is severe and frequent so as not to cause damage to the esophagus.



“Acid Reflux Gerd – Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease.” Acid Reflux Gerd – Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Aug. 2010.

Al-Sabbagh, G. “Supraesophageal manifestations of gastroesophageal reflux disease..” Semin Gastrointest Dis. 10.3 (1999): 113-9. Print.

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