Purpose: Albuterol reduces lower esophageal sphincter (LES) pressure in normal volunteers, although the effects of albuterol on esophageal function in asthmatic patients are not known. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of nebulized albuterol on lower esophageal function in asthmatic patients. Symptoms and a methacholine challenge test were used to identify asthmatic patients who were then enrolled in a prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blinded, crossover trial. Changes in esophageal function in response to nebulized albuterol or placebo were evaluated over two sessions spaced 1 week apart.
Results: Albuterol induced a dose-dependent drop in lower esophageal sphincter basal pressure with a threshold dose as low as 2.5 mg. Albuterol did not affect the amplitude of esophageal contractions.
Conclusions: Nebulized albuterol induces a dose-dependent reduction in LES basal pressure in asthmatic patients. These effects raise the possibility that gastroesophageal reflux may occur after bronchodilator therapy.