How Allergies Can Worsen Acid Reflux Symptoms

by Jennifer Mitchell Wilson B.S. Dietetics, Dietitian, Health Professional

About 50 million people in the United States have allergies, the symptoms of which can range from annoying to downright miserable. Sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes and sinus drainage are classic symptoms of allergies. However, allergies may also contribute to acid reflux symptoms.

There are several ways that allergies can affect or even increase acid reflux symptoms:

  • Coughing and sneezing can lower the pressure in the LES and increase reflux

  • Sinus drainage can increase irritation in the throat

  • Sinus drainage can upset the stomach

  • Unchecked allergies may lead to sinus infections which require treatment with antibiotics. Those in turn may also aggravate GI symptoms.

There are several treatments you can discuss with your doctor to treat allergies and prevent them from aggravating your acid reflux. Antihistamines can be the first line of defense against allergies. Some people also find that steroid nasal sprays and saline rinses can also help eliminate some of the symptoms. If your allergies are severe, working with an allergist to determine your specific triggers and how to eliminate them can be helpful.

Eosinophillic Esophagitis

Eosinophillic Esophagitis (EoE) is an allergic condition that causes the accumulation of white blood cells in the esophagus. The symptoms can be similar to acid reflux and consist of persistent heartburn, difficulty swallowing, abdominal pain and vomiting. But EoE is actually caused by an allergic reaction to pollen, environmental triggers or even foods. If you have other allergic conditions like asthma or eczema, for example, you may be at greater risk for having or developing EoE. If you have acid reflux symptoms that are not relieved with medications, like PPIs or H2 blockers, it may be time to talk with your doctor about EoE.

Jennifer Mitchell Wilson
Meet Our Writer
Jennifer Mitchell Wilson

Jennifer Mitchell Wilson is a dietitian and mother of three girls. Two of her children have dealt with acid reflux disease, food allergies, migraines, and asthma. She has a Bachelor of Science in dietetics from Harding University and has done graduate work in public health and nutrition through Eastern Kentucky University. In addition to writing for HealthCentral, she does patient consults and serves on the Board of Directors for the Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association.