Can GERD Cause Shortness of Breath and Palpitations?

Yes, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can potentially cause symptoms like shortness of breath and palpitations in some individuals. Though less common than other GERD symptoms like heartburn and regurgitation, respiratory symptoms and palpitations can occur due to various mechanisms related to acid reflux.

Here’s how GERD might lead to these symptoms:

  • Aspiration: Acid reflux or stomach contents that travel up into the esophagus might also reach the throat and airways, causing irritation or triggering a reflex that leads to coughing, throat irritation, or shortness of breath.
  • Vagal nerve stimulation: The vagus nerve, which runs from the brain to the abdomen, can be stimulated by acid reflux, leading to irregular heartbeats or palpitations in some individuals.
  • Esophageal spasm: Acid reflux might trigger spasms or contractions in the esophagus, causing chest discomfort, difficulty swallowing, and sometimes palpitations.

It’s important to note that shortness of breath and palpitations can be symptoms of various other conditions unrelated to GERD, such as heart issues, lung problems, anxiety, or other medical conditions.

If someone experiences persistent or severe shortness of breath, palpitations, chest pain, or any concerning symptoms, especially if they are related to breathing or heart function, it’s crucial to seek immediate medical attention for proper evaluation and diagnosis. A healthcare professional can determine the underlying cause of these symptoms and recommend appropriate treatment.