Chronic Cough: Could It Be Caused by GERD

Cough, one of the most common health symptoms experienced by patients and one of the top reasons patient seek care. It accounts for over 26 million office visits each year in the U.S. Coughs can appear for a plethora of reasons but most cough results from viral upper respiratory infection and is self-limited. Chronic cough, however, is a refractory condition that can be attributed to a variety of pulmonary and non-pulmonary etiologies.

Why it could be GERD

Recent studies prove that reflux events can be related to cough. GERD is thought to mediate cough through noxious refluxate stimulus of the distal esophagus via the esophago-bronchial reflex or activation of sensory nerve receptors in the upper airway, which trigger the afferent loop of the cough reflex.

A cough is more likely to be prompted by reflux if linked with some of the classic GERD symptoms. In a recent study of patients with laryngopharyngeal reflux symptoms post fundoplication, researchers found that chronic cough response to surgery is more likely in those with concomitant typical GERD symptoms such as heartburn and reflux and the presence of a hiatal hernia. This emphasizes the significance of volume regurgitation as a cause for cough. Thus, presence of cough and classic GERD symptoms and a moderate degree of reflux by pH monitoring off therapy may guide whose chronic cough symptoms to be reflux related.

If you are a patient with a chronic cough and experience typical GERD symptoms, there is a higher chance that GERD is playing a role in your cough. One should seek care from their gastroenterologist so he or she can best treat your cough!

Information Retrieved from:

Francis, David. Vaezi, Micheal. 2016. Chronic Cough: Why it Could be GERD and Why it May Not Be. Retrieved from: