Do you know that there is an association between bronchiectasis and gastric reflux? And, believe it or not, we can have gastric reflux and not have any symptoms!!! It’s called silent acid reflux. Furthermore, we can reflux solids, liquids and gases that are non-acidic as well as acid. That’s right! Sometimes the stuff that makes its way from the stomach into our esophagus can be alkaline like water, milk or bile. Although it isn’t acidic, that doesn’t stop it from refluxing and finding its way into our lungs, possibly resulting in tissue damage.
The top US bronchiectasis centers are focusing on gastric reflux (GERD) more and more. If your care team has not evaluated you for reflux, you might want to initiate this discussion by going to your visit with information. Why? Because it would be a shame for you to be doing lots of self-care, such as exercise and airway clearance and continue to have BE progression caused by reflux!
Before agreeing to take medication to reduce acid, understand that this medication does not prevent you from refluxing; it just reduces acid. Moreover, many of these meds are meant for short-term use and can have serious side effects.
Evidence-based studies on factors associated with reflux show that raising the head of your bed and, if you are obese, losing weight can lower reflux episodes. Below are some fantastic links on bronchiectasis and gastric reflux. Drs. Jeffrey King’s webinar is an overview of gastric reflux and its association with BE and Dr. Gwen Huitt’s interview addresses lifestyle changes that are believed to be beneficial. Dr. McDonnell’s article is more detailed and academic. Happy reading and don’t forget--Educate. Advocate for your care. Help others in the BE community.
Excellent NTM Talk podcast on reflux and aspiration
Dr. Jeffrey B. King—chief of Gastroenterology at National Jewish Health, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZwM3fsTIIY
Dr. Gwen Huitt—National Jewish Health Infectious Disease Specialist
“7 Tip Preventing Reflux Aspiration”
Dr. Melissa J. McDonnell--- Galway University Hospitals, Ireland
#bronchiectasis #airwayclearance #gastricreflux
Linda Cooper Esposito, MPH is a health educator with bronchiectasis. She developed the BE CLEAR Method to Living with Bronchiectasis and writes with compassion and humor about this chronic lung disease.