Moves in Medicine: Link between acid reflux and lung disease

Acid reflux is a common problem and even a nuisance, but if you're not treating it, it could turn into a much more severe health concern. We explore that more in today's Moves in Medicine with Temple Health.

"A chronic state of gastroesophageal reflux can cause severe problems, including lung disease," explained Dr. Abbas Abbas, Professor and Vice Chair of Thoracic Medicine and Surgery.

What is commonly known as GERD can cause lung disease.

"In fact many of our patients who end up requiring a lung transplant because of chronic lung disease or pulmonary fibrosis may have had the simple gastroesophageal reflux as the main cause of that disease," said Dr. Abbas.

That's the extreme case. No one knows the reason the two diseases overlap but there are theories.

"The idea is that you have lung disease, and it gets worse, it changes the pressure in the thorax or the chest area where your lungs are," said Dr. Joanna Beros, Assistant Professor of Thoracic Medicine and Surgery.

That can in turn create a pressure that's sucking stomach contents up into your esophagus.

The good news is that it's very treatable.

"The most common way we treat it is with medications," said Dr. Beros.

Medications that are explained to them by pharmacist Nur Kazzaz.

"I tell them why they have to take it, why it has to stop the acid from going on so they don't get those symptoms," she said.

And because these are lifelong medications, the patient is also closely monitored.

"Some of the concerns are they can have side effects. So we would just check their electrolytes, we would check their bone health and we would just make sure that the medications aren't causing long term side effects," she said.
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