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Treating GERD Helps Asthma In Children

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Tuesday, November 11, 2008 11:49 AM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Asthma, GERD, FDA and Prescription Drugs, Reflux Disease, Anti-Reflux Drugs, Hearburn


IMAGE SOURCE:© iStockPhoto / boy with inhaler / RMAX

New research presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAI) has shown that anti-reflux medications administered for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can sometimes have positive effects on asthma symptoms.

Children with persistent asthma and GERD who took anti-reflux medication required less asthma medication and experienced an improvement in lung function.

GERD happens when a muscle at the end of your esophagus does not close properly. This allows stomach contents to leak back in, or reflux, into the esophagus and irritate it.

Patients may feel a burning in the chest or throat called heartburn or experience acid indigestion. Anyone, including infants and children, can experience GERD. If left untreated, it can lead to more serious health problems.

Asthma, the most common serious chronic disease among children, affects nearly five million kids in the United States. Asthma in children is the cause of nearly three million physician visits and 200,000 hospitalizations annually.

The main cause of asthma is unknown, but researchers have long believed that allergies play a major role in the disease.

While the link between GERD and asthma remains a mystery, researchers have found that anti-reflux drugs can ease asthma symptoms.

Many asthma patients have underlying reflux and GERD has been implicated in aggravating asthma, Dr. Vikram Khoshoo, a pediatric gastroenterologist from West Jefferson Medical Center, tells Reuters Health.

For the study, 62 asthmatic children (ages 6- 11) underwent esophageal acid testing.

Forty-four of the 62 children had abnormal test results suggestive of GERD and were given anti-reflux therapy (surgical or medical), while the remaining patients continued their regular asthma treatment.

After two years, children receiving anti-reflux therapy experienced one or less asthma episodes, compared to three or more by the comparison group.

Khoshoo notes, GERD goes undetected in many children with persistent asthma.

“In children with persistent asthma without any risk factors or the child has asthma and despite proper medication and compliance is not showing signs of improvement, then it is possible that reflux is playing a role and should be investigated,” Khoshoo said. #

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