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7 Tips to Stop a GERD Cough

By: Kelly Warf, Au.D.
Michael Layland, M.D.

Many are surprised to learn that the issue behind their chronic cough is not a cold, but rather due to gastroesophageal reflux or GERD. The U.S. Library of Medicine found that GERD was associated in 25% or more cases of chronic coughing. The GERD cough is a dry cough that worsens at night and lasts longer than 8 weeks.

GERD occurs when part of the stomach’s acidic content move up through the throat. Often times people experience heartburn which does not resolve with antacids. In extreme cases, people may have trouble swallowing, nausea or vomiting, respiratory problems, or decay in tooth enamel.

If you experience coughing due to GERD, try these lifestyle adjustments to eliminate or minimize the effects.

  1. Maintain a healthy weight- GERD is found more commonly in overweight or obese individuals.
  2. Quit smoking- smoking can impair your body’s ability to keep acidic content in your stomach.
  3. Elevate your head when laying down or sleeping- this is best achieved with a wedge block rather than stacking pillows.
  4. Eat slowly.
  5. Wait 2-3 hours to lie down after you eat and avoid eating a heavy meal before bed.
  6. Avoid tight fitting clothes.
  7. Certain foods can irritate GERD or acid reflex, thus best to avoid the following:
    • Alcohol
    • Chocolate
    • Onion
    • Fatty foods
    • Caffeine
    • Mint
    • Fried foods
    • Garlic
    • Tomato sauce

If you take the steps listed above and your cough does not resolve, medication may be needed or different diagnosis (i.e., allergies, post nasal drip) may be the cause of your cough. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms described above, please schedule an appointment with us today so we can determine the underlying cause and create a treatment plan. Schedule your appointment at the Ear, Nose, and Throat Center today. Call 847-685-1000

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