It’s less common, but it does happen.
Asthma, cough, laryngitis, heartburn, even chest pain could signal GERD, A common digestive disorder that affects more than 56 million Americans.
By far, the most common symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is heartburn, which occurs when the acidic contents of the stomach reflux (flow backwards) into the esophagus. But about 10–15% of people with GERD do not have heartburn. Instead, they experience asthma, a chronic cough, chest pain, or laryngitis.
These symptoms result when stomach acid refluxes into organs connected to the esophagus, such as the larynx, trachea, and lungs. The chance of developing these nonheartburn symptoms of GERD increases with age. Nonheartburn symptoms make GERD more difficult to diagnose, because acid reflux is not the most common cause of them.
In fact, the only way to find out for sure whether these symptoms are due to GERD is to try a proton pump inhibitor—such as esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid), omeprazole (Prilosec), pantoprazole (Protonix), or rabeprazole (Aciphex)—to suppress acid production in the stomach. If the symptoms go away within three months of treatment with a proton pump inhibitor, GERD was the problem. If not, it’s back to the drawing board to find the cause.
So if you are wondering whether those bouts of asthma, that nagging cough, those episodes of chest pain, or that hoarse voice could be GERD, do not hesitate to call your doctor. Many of the same treatments for heartburn -- lifestyle measures, medications, and surgery -- may relieve the non-heartburn symptoms of GERD as well.
(KAY’S NOTE: Following the SCD, if started early enough before too much damage is done, has been proven to cure GERD/reflux and indigestion and avoid the side effects of drugs. Drugs only work temporarily while the damage to your health is continuing. GERD and heartburn often lead to esophageal cancer. Please read “Our Family Success Story” to learn about my healing of Acid Reflux Disease.)