Q:

What is the relationship between acid reflux and chronic cough?

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Quick Answer

Acid moves back up the esophagus and triggers airway spasms that are responsible for chronic cough, according to MedicineNet. Coughing is also triggered when acid or contents are aspirated. Either acid reflux or reflux of contents without acid trigger chronic cough, as stated by Healthline.

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Full Answer

An acid reflux cough is nonproductive of mucus and often occurs without the presence of other cough causes, according to Healthline. A normal chest X-ray is also an indicator a cough may be due to reflux.

Heartburn is often absent in acid reflux that manifests as chronic cough, making the diagnosis of reflux as the cause for the cough difficult, as reported by Healthline. Also complicating the diagnosis is the fact many other causes of chronic cough exist. Patients can be given reflux medications called proton pump inhibitors to see if coughing symptoms resolve. Tests that detect acid or other reflux are also sometimes employed to aid in diagnosis.

Treating the reflux also treats chronic cough, according to Healthline. Lifestyle changes reduce reflux. Weight loss, avoiding lying down three hours after eating, and raising the head of the bed can help. Proton pump inhibitors and antacids also prevent and treat reflux. Surgery is sometimes an option for patients who do not respond to medication and lifestyle changes.

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