The association of gastroesophageal reflux disease with asthma and chronic cough in the adult

Am J Respir Med. 2002;1(2):133-46. doi: 10.1007/BF03256602.


Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a common condition which is particularly prevalent in patients with asthma and chronic cough. Physiologic changes caused by asthma and chronic cough promote acid reflux. GERD is also considered by many investigators as a factor contributing to airway inflammation. An etiological relationship between GERD and asthma/chronic cough and vice versa has been supported by a large number of experimental and clinical findings and refuted by others. Although further controlled studies are needed to clarify this relationship, GERD and asthma/chronic cough appear to be linked to each other. The association of GERD with asthma and chronic cough involves nerve reflexes, cytokines, inflammatory and neuroendocrine cells and, in some patients, tracheal aspiration of refluxing gastric fluids. GERD may present with typical symptoms but can also be asymptomatic. Sensitive methods for diagnosing GERD are available, which include esophageal pH monitoring, acid provocative tests, modified barium swallow and endoscopy. Consideration of the association of GERD with asthma and chronic cough is of practical value in the management of chronic cough or asthma resistant to treatment. Treatment of GERD in patients with asthma has been consistently shown to improve respiratory symptoms but not necessarily pulmonary function tests. Surgical treatment can be a useful and cost-effective approach in selected patients with asthma and GERD.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Asthma / complications*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cough / complications*
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / drug therapy
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / etiology*
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / physiopathology
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / surgery
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Inflammation