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What is GERD? Can it affect my breathing?

Authored by - Julie Eversole, Operations Manager at the Lung Center of America

GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease)

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a long-term condition where acid from the stomach comes up into the esophagus. Many people occasionally experience gastroesophageal reflux (GER). However, if an individual experiences persistent acid reflux that occurs more than twice a week, they may be diagnosed with GERD.

Symptoms of GERD include:

  • A burning sensation in your chest (heartburn), usually after eating, which might be worse at night.

  • Chest pain.

  • Difficulty swallowing.

  • Regurgitation of food or sour liquid.

  • Sensation of a lump in your throat.

But what does this have to do with my breathing problems? Well, you would be surprised!

Shortness of breath, also called dyspnea, occurs with GERD because stomach acid that creeps into the esophagus can enter the lungs, particularly during sleep, and cause swelling of the airways. This can lead to asthma reactions or cause aspiration pneumonia.

Factors that can aggravate acid reflux include:

  • Smoking.

  • Eating large meals or eating late at night.

  • Eating certain foods (triggers) such as fatty or fried foods.

  • Drinking certain beverages, such as alcohol or coffee.

  • Taking certain medications, such as aspirin.

Be sure to visit us at, or call our office today to schedule an appointment.

More questions? Contact Julie at LCOA and we will be glad to assist you.

Julie Eversole

Lung Center of America

Operations Manager



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