Q and A: Acid Reflux and Your Lungs

Patient Expert

What effect does acid reflux have on the lungs?

Acid reflux can cause pulmonary complications such as cough, asthma and aspiration. Refluxed liquid can cause coughing by stimulating nerves that provoke coughing. Additionally, reflux into the lower esophagus can stimulate esophageal nerves that connect to and can stimulate nerves going to the lungs. These nerves to the lungs then can cause the smaller breathing tubes to narrow, resulting in an attack of asthma. The reflux of liquid into the lungs (called aspiration) often results in coughing and choking.

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