Can Reflux Medications Help Asthma Symptoms?

Here’s a classic example of a study with negative results which is not surprising. Researchers gave acid reducing medications (lansoprazole) to children with steroid dependent asthma. About 300 children were randomized to receive either the medication or a placebo. They found no significant differences between the two groups in terms of asthma symptoms. If you look at all the studies that link asthma to obstructive sleep apnea, and reflux to obstructive sleep apnea, it makes more sense that the two (asthma and reflux) are connected by obstructive sleep apnea. 

It’s been shown that apneas create conditions in the esophagus and throat which can cause your stomach juices to reach your throat. Furthermore, pepsin and bile have been found in lung and sinus washings. What this means is that your stomach juices are still coming up into your throat, especially if you have obstructive sleep apnea. However, what’s coming up is just less acidic juices, but still includes bile, digestive enzymes, and bacteria. We know that proton pump inhibitors and H2 blockers such as cimetidine don’t really do anything to prevent reflux into the throat. 

My hypothesis is supported by studies that show that pro-motility agents such as domperidone and clarithromycin can help lower asthma symptoms. There are also numerous studies showing that treating obstructive sleep apnea can help with symptoms of asthma and reflux. 


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