Asthma and GERD
Friday, October 31, 2008

The link between asthma and GERD has been a mystery for years. Research by European researchers has brought new light to the discussion. Dr. Edward Hill discusses their report in todayís 60 Second Housecall.

Chronic heartburn may alter the immune system and raise the risk of asthma, according to a new study.

The study may help explain why so many people with asthma also suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.

Previous studies have shown that 50 to 90 percent of people with asthma also suffer from gastric reflux, but until now the relationship between the two conditions was unclear.

The study shows that when inhaling, small amounts of stomach acid back up into the esophagus and lungs. This slowly produces changes in the immune system that may lead to the development of asthma.

In the study, European researchers mimicked the effects of GERD in laboratory mice by inserting small amounts of gastric fluid into their lungs for eight weeks. The results showed that the GERD mice responded very differently to allergens. They developed an immune response similar to that found in people with asthma by releasing one specific type of infection-fighting cell. Healthy mice responded in a more balanced manner releasing two types of immune cells.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Iím Dr. Edward Hill.