Acid Reflux Cough

Acid Reflux Solution Kit

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Reflux relief using 3 common grocery store items.

You’ve been coughing and wheezing long after the pollen season.  In fact, you’ve been coughing without allergen trigger, period.  Could it be that your lungs are just going through a spastic fit?

If you are highly acidic and burp too much, chances are, your coughing is not lung-related.  If you experience sour aftertaste after meals, and you need to cough off scratchy throat, then your coughing may mask underlying problems that have nothing to do with sticky mucus in your bronchial tubes.  Coughing has been identified as one of the symptoms in ER patients who were eventually diagnosed with acid reflux.

Caustic digestive juice sometimes finds its way back up the esophagus, reaching the larynx, where it irritates the laryngeal lining and therefore results to coughs.  In infants, the stomach contents may altogether spill out of the mouth, a common malady among children below 12 months old called “spit ups.”  Occasional episodes of acid reflux, both in adults and in babies, are not cause for alarm.  The sphincter located at the bottom of the esophagus and the top of the stomach sometimes lose control.  A scratchy or sore throat could ensue, and it often clears up as soon as gravity works to keep the gastric acid where it belongs.

There are cases when stomach-bound particles defy gravity, a condition known as upright acid reflux.  This condition is aggravated when the person is lying down, as in the case of supine acid reflux.  Acid reflux occurring while the person is asleep (more likely to happen when lying down right after a heavy meal) could choke a person to death.

While an occasional bout of acid reflux may be harmless, it is the regular and long-term refluxing that presents serious hazards, of which coughing is only one of the many symptoms.  This condition is known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).

The cluster of symptoms that comprise GERD is the following:

  • Persistent coughing;
  • Frequent heartburn and chest pains, although some GERD patients do not experience this altogether;
  • Wheezing;
  • Difficulty swallowing;
  • Waterbrash, or sour aftertaste after burping.

Quite obviously, expectorants cannot be expected to shake off chronic coughing.  Treating the underlying cause, which may be occasional acid reflux or GERD, is the more logical way to approach the problem.  GERD starts out as an innocuous digestive condition that, when left untreated, could progress into a serious medical condition.  Frequent contact of the esophageal lining (which lacks protection against acidic fluid) with abrasive refluxate (contents that back up) could alter the cells and result to ulcer and even cancer.  This usually happens in cases where the acid sloshes only up to the esophagus, so no other outward symptoms are observed.  The condition, therefore, may be left undiagnosed until it has progressed to advanced stages.

To reduce the occurrence of acid reflux cough, and keep GERD at bay, you may want to observe practices that discourage reflux in the first place:

  • Graze with smaller, evenly-spaced meals, rather than sit down to three heavy meals;
  • Avoid foods high in saturated fats.  Fats, if taken in moderation, help the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) more efficiently.  Otherwise, bile (the bitter fluid produced by liver to break down fats) is squirted into the stomach in concentrated amounts, making the digestive fluid more corrosive than it already is;
  • Sit upright for at least 30 minutes after every meal;
  • Banish alcohol and nicotine from your lifestyle.  An occasional nightcap can be sneaked into your routine, provided it is done in moderation;
  • Cut down on your caffeine intake.  Caffeine exacerbates acids in the stomach;
  • Skip aspirin and ibuprofen if you can.

If coughing persists, independent of other GERD symptoms, a visit to a pulmonologist may be in order.