A cough is a common phenomenon of the respiratory tract to expel out irritants, foreign particle, dust etc. from the air passage. However, there might be several other reasons contributing to a cough you are experiencing right now. One such factor is acid reflux. In this article, we will analyze if a cough you are experiencing is due to acid reflux or there is involvement of any other underlying medical condition. We will rule out all possible symptoms and conditions to decide if a cough is caused by acid reflux or GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease). But before that, we need to know some common facts about What is acid reflux, what are the symptoms of acid reflux and how to diagnose acid reflux so that we can finally conclude it. We will discuss how to know if a cough is caused by acid reflux and essential oils for acid reflux relief?
What is Acid reflux?
We all have an LES (Lower esophageal sphincter) in the last part of the esophagus that acts as a barrier and prevents the content of stomach to flow back. All of us occasionally experience acid reflux but people suffering from GERD experience it more often or at least twice a week.
Acid Reflux Causes
When LES (Lower esophageal sphincter) move up to the diaphragm either due to a medical condition like a hiatal hernia or any other reasons. The LES cant prevents the food content from the stomach to flow back to the esophagus, leading to food and acid reflux to the esophagus.
Acid Reflux Symptoms
The most common symptoms of GERD is persistent coughing and heartburn ( burning sensation in middle chest and throat). There are several other reasons too, such as hoarseness of voice, swallowing difficulty, feeling like there is a lump in the throat, discomfort in the upper respiratory tract, the taste of mouth become bitter etc.
Acid Reflux Diagnosis
Acid reflux or GERD is usually diagnosed by the symptoms the patient is experiencing. However, the doctor may recommend a few tests to confirm it. The tests are as follows.
Test for acid reflux
The ambulatory acid probe test is the measurement of the quantity of acid present in the stomach during 24 hr duration. The doctor will insert a thread or catheter to your nose down the esophagus. You will be asked to wear a device and also attach a capsule-like device in the esophagus. The capsule-like device attached to the esophagus will send a signal to the device you wear regarding the acid flowing back to the esophagus.
The doctor will ask you to swallow a kind of chalky liquid call barium. The liquid barium will coat the throat, esophagus and stomach and upper intestine. The doctor can examine the X-ray of barium coated organ and identify any possible complication of any organ.
Endoscopy for Acid Reflux
The doctor will pass a small thin long pipe with a tiny camera inside your nose that will pass down to the esophagus and stomach. The doctor will find out any possible damage to the GIT. If the doctor suspects any case of malignancy, he may take a tissue sample for biopsy.
Manometry is the test of esophageal motility. The doctor will pass a long thin tube into the esophagus to know the movement of the esophagus and how the food is being pushed into the esophagus.
Symptoms of Acid Reflux Cough
A persistent cough is a very common symptom of acid reflux. However, people having a persistent cough due to acid reflux don’t usually display the symptoms of heartburn at all. There might be several other reasons for a chronic cough. But, cough is one of the most common symptoms of acid reflux and there are some clues to confirm that if it’s due to acid reflux and they are as follows:
- The incidence of coughing will be mostly at night or after meals
- When the person suffers from a cough don’t have asthma or post nasal drip.
- Chest x-ray shows normal results.
- When coughing occurs or aggravate while lying down.
- When the patient is not taking ACE inhibitors like Lisinopril or enalapril and still experiencing persistent cough.
- If the person is a non-smoker.
- When the symptoms of a cough go away with the administration of PPI (Proton Pump Inhibitors). PPI is the medicines used to manage acid reflux as first-line drugs. They are available as OTC (Over the counter ) medications in the chemist shop. These drugs act by blocking the receptors in the stomach responsible to produce acid.
Home Remedies for Acid Reflux
People suffering from acid reflux or GERD should adopt the following lifestyle changes to relieve or completely eliminate a persistent heartburn or other symptoms due to acid reflux.
- Avoid oily and junk food or food that aggravate acidity.
- Don’t lay down immediately after having meals.
- Don’t overeat and try to eat smaller meals a day.
- Quit smoking
- Avoid wearing tight clothes around the abdomen area.
- Drink plenty of water empty stomach in the morning.
- Always have your dinner 2 to 3 hours before sleeping.
- Try to avoid Alcohol regularly.
- A glass of aloe vera juice daily.
- Stay Away from spicy food.
- Apple cider vinegar benefits a lot in curing acid reflux.
- Add natural antacids like apple and banana into your diet.
- Eating papayas can help improve digestion and reduce heartburn as it contains enzymes called papain.
- Sleeping in an inclined manner helps reduce reflux.
- Chewing gums is helpful in saliva production which dilutes acid.
There are some herbs like chamomile and licorice found to be effective in relieving acid reflux and heartburn.
Essential Oils for Acid Reflux and Heartburn
Essential oils can be a very good option for acid reflux relief. Using essential oils for treating heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD may give natural relief from that blazing sensation.
Lavender Essential oil
Lavender Essential oil is known for promoting relaxation. Its calming effects is very helpful for individuals who suffer from burning sensations, acid reflux, and other symptoms associated with heartburn.
Lemon Essential Oil
When you add lemon oil into your daily routine, it does not only have the potential to level the acid in the stomach but it also removes toxins from the body. Add a drop or two of the lemon oil into a glass of lukewarm water and drink it before 30 minutes of any meal. Also, Read Top 13 Essential Oils for Snoring that really work faster.
Peppermint essential oil
Peppermint essential oil is the most popular oil for acid reflux relief. We all know that peppermint has a cooling sensation because it contains menthol. But it is also famous for its ability to relieve acid reflux, heartburn, and indigestion.
Ginger essential oil
Ginger essential oil is known for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. This is the reason it is a very effective remedy for acid reflux. It can prevent the stomach from over-producing acid and can block a type of bacteria named Helicobacter pylori that play a role in triggering ulcers.
Acid Reflux Prescription Medication
People suffering from acid reflux respond so well the PPI (Proton Pump Inhibitors), the first line drugs for GERD. The most commonly used proton pump inhibitors are pantoprazole (Protonix), lansoprazole (Prevacid), esomeprazole (Nexium) etc. These drugs are OTC medication available in chemist shops.
Apart from these PPI, the doctor may recommend antacid syrup (Digene) or H2 receptor blockers such as Ranitidine (Zantac), Cimetidine (Tagamet), Famotidine (Pepcid AC).
Baclofen is another drug used to strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter to reduce the frequency of acid reflux.
Surgery for Acid Reflux
If the condition of the patient does not relieve after all these treatments, the doctor will suggest the patient go for surgery. The most effective surgical method is fundoplication. It’s a simple surgery that connects the upper part if the stomach to the lower part of the esophagus. The patient has to stay in the hospital for 2 to 3 days after surgery and generally recovers completely in a week or two.
Many research shows that increasing fiber in the daily diet, specifically in the form of fruits and vegetables, may reduce GERD symptoms. Losing weight may turn out to be more for your acid reflux relief than you have ever imagined.