Can Acid Reflux Cause Coughing?

Yes, acid reflux can cause coughing, a symptom often referred to as “acid reflux cough” or “GERD-related cough.” When stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, it can irritate and inflame the lining of the esophagus. This irritation can extend to the throat and airways, leading to various symptoms, including coughing. Here’s how it happens:

  • Direct Irritation: Stomach acid is highly acidic and irritating to the sensitive lining of the esophagus. When it comes into contact with the throat, it can trigger a cough reflex as the body attempts to clear the irritation.
  • Aspiration: In some cases, stomach acid can reach the lungs, a condition known as aspiration. This can lead to irritation and inflammation of the airways, which may result in a chronic cough. Aspiration is more common in people with severe acid reflux.
  • Reflex Cough: Acid reflux can stimulate the vagus nerve, which plays a role in regulating various bodily functions, including the cough reflex. This can make you more prone to coughing when you have acid reflux.

If you have a chronic cough that you suspect is related to acid reflux, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional. They can help diagnose the underlying cause of your cough and recommend appropriate treatment options. Managing acid reflux through lifestyle changes, dietary adjustments, and medications can often alleviate coughing associated with this condition.