GERD Cough: What You Need to Know


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Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD is a chronic condition that impacts the digestive system. GERD Cough is a common occurrence that accompanies the condition. Patients who suffer from GERD experience severe heartburn and acid reflux that often creates a burning sensation in the chest. Many of the GERD symptoms can be uncomfortable and painful and this also includes GERD Cough. [1,2]


What is GERD Cough Exactly?

The medical term for GERD cough is called LPR or laryngopharyngeal reflux. This is a sub-condition associated with those diagnosed with GERD. It presents with chronic cough episodes and a hoarse irritated throat. Gastroenterologists experts state while GERD cough is not a classic acid-reflux symptom, however many patients with GERD experience it. [1]


What Causes GERD Cough?

Medically speaking, it is used to describe the backflow of aggravating stomach contents flowing back into the airway system. The areas of impact include the nose, sinus cavities, trachea, bronchia, voice box and lungs. Some studies reference a boomerang type of effect, meaning that a chronic cough can lead to reflux and vice versa. Moreover, the condition isn’t uncommon. [1]


What Symptoms Are Associated with GERD Cough?

It may be hard to pinpoint the direct causes contributing to chronic coughing. Medical experts define chronic cough as lasting 8 weeks or more without resolution. Distinguishing between allergies or other contributors may prove to be difficult, but the most common experiences of those with a GERD related cough include:

-        Nighttime dry coughing spells.

-        Sore irritated throat pain.

-        Hoarseness.

-        Difficulty swallowing.

-        Feeling as if something Is obstructing the throat.


What Are the Common Treatments for GERD Cough?

Managing GERD symptoms in general often requires a close partnership with your gastroenterologist. The first steps include identifying the chief contributors for either the cough or GERD itself. The two may be intertwined and therefore the treatment options may vary from patient to patient. [3] Diagnosing GERD could involve a series of tests and procedures - most commonly an endoscopy is performed. [4,5]

What leading gastroenterologists know about treating GERD cough is based heavily upon cough suppressant therapies. This may include a variety of both OTC and advanced pharmaceutical interventions. [3] There could also be recommendations made in the way of diet and exercise. In some cases, simple diet changes and lowering weight can help reduce the amount of acid in the stomach and pressure on the esophagus.

Additionally, expect close monitoring from your doctor. Also, be sure to communicate any worsening of symptoms. Without treatment, GERD Cough can lead to more serious problems and exacerbate other non-GI related conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea and asthma. [3]


What Are the Lifestyle Changes That Could Help Reduce Symptoms Associated with GERD COUGH or LPR?

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·         Staying within the recommended weight and BMI for your age, height, and gender.

·         Reduced alcohol consumption

·         Avoid smoking or vaping

·         Limiting caffeine

·         Avoiding late night meals, especially 2 hours prior to bed

·         Elevated head positioning for bed

·         Eating smaller more frequent meals

·         Avoiding spicy foods, adopting a bland diet

·         Avoid clearing of throat


What is the Extended Outlook and Novel Therapies for GERD and GERD Cough?

The research community and gastroenterologists from around the globe are actively seeking avenues to provide better treatment options for our patients. On the discovery front, the findings following several clinical studies discuss the use of Gabapentin. [3]

 In clinical studies, they found 75% of patients reported a 50% improvement in chronic cough episodes independent of cause. (Meaning they just aimed to lessen or completely reduce chronic coughing in general.) More testing is needed, but the efficacy is being explored for possible use in this area. [3]

Other advanced treatment options may include minimally invasive surgery techniques. One has gained some attention, TIF, which can be performed on an outpatient basis. [6] PPI’s are also used to treat GERD and GERD related Chronic Cough. PPI’s work by regulating the sensory nerves in and around the larynx. [7]


Should you Schedule a Visit with a Gastroenterologist?

If you are experiencing an unexplained cough or other symptoms that may be related to GERD, then YES, a visit is recommended. Left untreated, GERD and related conditions can lead to serious health implications such as swelling of the vocal cords or ulcers. With an accurate diagnosis and a customized treatment plan, a favorable outcome can be better achieved. [5]

Scheduling is easy and we have several locations to choose from including our Saratoga and Schenectady office locations. Our team of highly-trained specialists is committed to providing the best care possible. We will help find solutions and incorporate a strategy to help reduce the symptoms of GERD cough or other related GI conditions.