Melissa Benoit

Gastroesophogeal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Acid is normally produced in the stomach. Occasionally, some of the stomach acid will back-up into the feeding tube called the esophagus. This back-up is called “reflux”, and because it is from the stomach to the esophagus it is called gastroesophageal reflux. There are many reasons why people with CF may be more prone to gastroesophageal reflux disease. Some of these include abnormal relaxation of the muscle at the bottom of the esophagus where it meets the stomach called the lower esophageal sphincter, increased abdominal pressure due to chronic coughing and wheezing, medication side effects, and possibly mechanical effects of hyperinflated lungs pushing down on the diaphragm. You may experience symptoms of heartburn, acid taste in the mouth, and chest discomfort. However, some people have no symptoms. On the other hand, some people can present with increasing cough or worsening shortness of breath. This is because acid in the esophagus can stimulate nerve endings that cause coughing. Also, acid can drip into the airways and cause further irritation of the lungs. Talk to your CF team if you think you have symptoms that may be acid reflux. An acid suppressant may help with your symptoms and you can discuss whether this may be appropriate for you.