Asthma and gastroesophageal reflux: acid suppressive therapy improves asthma outcome

Am J Med. 1996 Apr;100(4):395-405. doi: 10.1016/S0002-9343(97)89514-9.


Purpose: To determine (1) the appropriate omeprazole (Prilosec) dose required for adequate acid suppression in asthmatics with gastroesophageal reflux, (2) whether aggressive acid suppressive therapy of gastroesophageal reflux improves asthma outcome in asthmatics with gastroesophageal reflux, (3) the time course of asthma improvement, and (4) demographic, esophageal, or pulmonary predictors of a positive asthma response to antireflux therapy.

Patients and methods: Thirty nonsmoking adult asthmatics with gastroesophageal reflux (asthma defined by American Thoracic Society criteria and reflux defined by symptoms and abnormal 24-hour esophageal pH testing) were recruited from the outpatient clinics of a 900-bed university hospital. Patients underwent baseline studies including a demographic questionnaire, esophageal manometry, dual-probe 24-hour esophageal pH test, barium esophogram, and pulmonary spirometry. During the 4-week pretherapy phase, patients recorded reflux and asthma symptom scores and peak expiratory flow rates (PEFs) upon awakening, 1 hour after dinner, and at bedtime. Patients began 20 mg/d omeprazole, and the dose was titrated until acid suppression was documented by 24-hour pH test. Patients remained on this acid suppressive dose for 3 months. Responders were identified by a priori definitions: asthma symptom reduction by >20% and/or PEF increase by >20%. Asthma symptom scores, PEF's baseline and posttherapy pulmonary spirometry were analyzed.

Results: Twenty-two (73%) patients were asthma symptom and /or PEF responders: 20 (67%) were asthma symptom responders, and 6 (20%) were PEF responders. Responders reduced their asthma symptoms by 57% (P<0.001), improved their morning and night PEFs by 8% and 9% (both P <0.005), and had improvement in forced expiratory volume at 1 second (P <0.02), mean forced expiratory flow during the middle half (25% to 75%) of the forced vital capacity (P <0.04), and peak expiratory flow (P <0.01) with acid suppressive therapy. Mean acid suppressive dose of omeprazole was 27 mg/d (+/-2.2) with 27% (8) patients requiring more than 20 mg/d. The presence of regurgitation or excessive proximal esophageal reflux predicted asthma response with 100% sensitivity, 100% negative predictive value, specificity of 44% and a positive predictive value of 79%.

Conclusions: Acid suppressive therapy with omeprazole improves asthma symptoms and/or PEFs by >20% and improves pulmonary function in 73% of asthmatics with gastroesophageal reflux after 3 months of acid suppressive therapy. Many asthmatics (27%) required >20 mg/d of omeprazole to suppress acid. The presence of regurgitation and/or excessive proximal esophageal reflux predicts a positive asthma outcome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Ulcer Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Ulcer Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Asthma / complications
  • Asthma / physiopathology
  • Asthma / prevention & control*
  • Barium Sulfate
  • Contrast Media
  • Esophagus / diagnostic imaging
  • Esophagus / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Forecasting
  • Gastric Acid / metabolism*
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / complications
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / drug therapy*
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Male
  • Maximal Midexpiratory Flow Rate
  • Middle Aged
  • Omeprazole / administration & dosage
  • Omeprazole / therapeutic use*
  • Peak Expiratory Flow Rate
  • Pressure
  • Radiography
  • Remission Induction
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Spirometry
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vital Capacity


  • Anti-Ulcer Agents
  • Contrast Media
  • Barium Sulfate
  • Omeprazole