Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may cause, trigger or exacerbate many pulmonary diseases. The physiological link between GERD and pulmonary disease has been extensively studied in chronic cough and asthma. A primary care physician often encounters patients with extra esophageal manifestations of GERD in the absence of heartburn. Patients may present with symptoms involving the pulmonary system; noncardiac chest pain; and ear, nose and throat disorders. Local irritation in the esophagus can cause symptoms that vary from indigestion, like chest discomfort and abdominal pain, to coughing and wheezing. If the gastric acid reaches the back of the throat, it may cause a bitter taste in the mouth and/or aspiration of the gastric acid into the lungs. The acid can cause throat irritation, postnasal drip and hoarseness, as well as recurrent cough, chest congestion and lung inflammation leading to asthma and/or bronchitis/ pneumonia. This clinical review examines the potential pathophysiological mechanisms of pulmonary manifestations of GERD. It also reviews relevant clinical information concerning GERD-related chronic cough and asthma. Finally, a potential management strategy for GERD in pulmonary patients is discussed.
Keywords: Gastroesophageal reflux disease; lungs; pulmonary.