Shortness of breath? - It May Not Be Your Asthma Symptoms

November 5, 2021
Andrew Gallagher
3 Min Read

A common symptom of asthma is shortness of breath(SOB), this is known as dyspnea. This is very anxiety inducing for sufferers. However, many who suffer are not aware, it could also be a condition known as False Shortness of Breath/Pseudo-dyspnea. This can occur when your SOB is caused by acid reflux rather than asthma itself, although it feels exactly like asthma induced SOB, it is not a breathing related problem and is caused by acid in your esophagus. This can be panic inducing and can cause hyperventilation in some patients.

Related article: Asthma - What is it?

If you are experiencing SOB and your asthma medication doesn't help with it, you should discuss with your doctor GERD/acid reflux.

Asthma and acid reflux often go hand in hand. Doctors and researchers are not sure why, but it is known that acid reflux can worsen asthma and asthma can worsen acid reflux, this is especially true for severe acid reflux, a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Half of children with asthma also have GERD.

Treating acid reflux might ease your "asthma" symptoms, these can be treated with over-the-counter medications, such as a proton pump inhibitor, such as omeprazole (prilosec OTC). Also avoiding reflux triggers such as fatty foods, alcohold and tobacco may also aid.

In some cases, asthma medications can worsen acid reflux, (essentially worsening your asthma). Theophylline is a known medication that can do this, and there are others. However, do not quit taking or change your asthma medications without discussing with your doctor first.