Do Asthma Medications Cause Heartburn Symptoms?

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Overview of Asthma and Asthma Medications

Asthma is a chronic disease of the lungs characterized by inflammation which results in the narrowing of the airways. Affected individuals generally present with shortness of breath, tightness of the chest, and cough, especially at night. A wheezing or a whistling sound is often heard when patients are having an attack. The disorder usually starts in childhood, although there are also cases of adult-onset asthma. Factors which increases an individuals risk of developing asthma include history of asthma in the family, childhood infections and exposure to environmental allergens. Examples of environmental allergens are dusts, smoke and infections. Exercise and stress may also trigger an attack.

The airways of an asthmatic individual usually react to certain allergens or triggers. During an episode or attack, the airways become narrow as a result of inflammation and swelling around the area. Mucus secretion also increases. Air delivery to the lungs decreases resulting in the manifestation of asthma symptoms. An asthma attack can be mild or severe. Some patients may get well with minimum treatment. There are events however, which can lead to severe episodes and patients may need emergency care.

There are several medications prescribed by doctors to help control asthma and prevent flareups. These include anti-inflammatory drugs, bronchodilators, anti-IgE medicines and Leukotriene blockers. Although asthma is not generally a curable disease, it can be controlled. With the help of medicines and with proper understanding of their condition, most asthma sufferers are now able to manage their condition, and lead active and normal lives.

Heartburn Facts

Heartburn is a manifestation of other disorders in the body, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD and other digestive problems. It occurs when the muscle around the lowermost portion of the esophagus weakens or relaxes, thus food and stomach acids flow back to the throat. Symptoms include chest pain, difficulty swallowing, having a hot or acidic taste in the mouth, and also a sensation of burning in the throat and chest which can last from a few minutes to several hours, especially after eating. It becomes more severe when bending or lying down. These symptoms are sometimes mistaken for a heart attack. Frequent heartburn episodes can lead to hoarseness of voice, long term cough and sore throat.

Asthma Medications and Heartburn Symptoms

Like all drugs, asthma medications also comes with some side-effects. Anti-inflammatory drugs are used to treat the swelling or inflammation in the airways. Adverse reactions which patients may experience with the use of anti-inflammatory drugs are nasal irritation or dryness, hoarseness, nausea, headache and cough. Bronchodilators are drugs which can widen the airways to make breathing easier, and its side-effects include rapid heartbeat, dry mouth, nervousness and cough. Anti-IgE medications are used to block the body’s natural reaction to allergens or triggers. Its side-effects include an allergic reaction to the drug which manifest as rash, breathing difficulty, itchiness, swelling around the neck and throat, and difficulty swallowing. Leukotriene blockers works by blocking certain substances in the body which usually lead to asthma. Side-effects include headache, fever, heartburn, stomach pain, tiredness and vomiting.

Of the medications used for asthma patients, the leukotriene blockers may cause heartburn in some patients. It has been found that asthma medications can worsen the symptoms of an existing GERD disorder in some patients and that GERD may also increase the frequency of asthma episodes.

References Heartburn Leukotriene blockers

American Lung Association: What is Asthma?