What is Acid Reflux Cough?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 June 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
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Acid reflux cough is a condition in which the acid naturally found in the stomach rises into the lower throat and esophagus, causing a mild to severe cough. Heartburn may or may not also be an issue, since many with this condition do not even realize they have acid reflux. The acids which normally cause heartburn in more severe cases of the illness only make it into the lower throat region, causing irritation. This can lead to frequent coughing as the only symptom.

Reflux is a condition in which the contents of the stomach rise back into the chest and throat, often causing painful symptoms like heartburn and indigestion. The main reasons this happens are weakened esophageal muscles or an overproduction of stomach acid. Sometimes the acid or food contents do not cause severe irritation, but can result in an acid reflux cough. This may happen when food doesn’t fully reach the esophagus, but only the base of the throat.

Sometimes acid does make it higher into the esophagus, but the esophagus is able to withstand most of the damage without causing trademark reflux symptoms such as burning or pain. Other times, acid reflux cough will be present in addition to more typical symptoms. In either case, a visit to the doctor is necessary because prolonged exposure to stomach acid can lead to serious damage to the larynx and esophageal lining.


There are various medications available to help with acid reflux cough. Some are available by prescription only, so a doctor or specialist in the condition will have to prescribe them. Others, such as over the counter heartburn medications, may help alleviate some of the symptoms or heal mild forms of the condition.

Natural treatments for acid reflux cough can include sleeping in a semi-upright position, using thickening agents in food or drink to keep them in the stomach, and avoiding highly acidic or heartburn producing foods. It may also be beneficial to eat foods that are easily digested and to eat them at regular intervals throughout the day instead of eating three large meals. For instance, eating small meals or snacks once every three hours will keep the stomach from getting too full and may help reduce acid production.

If coughing is very severe or produces mucus or blood, a doctor should be contacted right away. Serious damage to the throat may have already been done, or acid reflux cough may not be to blame. Any constant or persistent cough should be further investigated for a proper diagnosis to rule out any other more serious causes, such as lung disease.



Discuss this Article

Post 3

@mobilian - In addition to the causes of acid reflux cough listed in this article, there are other causes of acid reflux. Smoking can be one of these causes, so what you have heard is true. However, other things like being overweight and bad eating habits are just as likely to lead to the problem.

Some medicines can cause acid reflux, too. I had a friend who had to change blood pressure medicine because the first medicine he was given was causing acid reflux. Trying to figure out what is causing the condition can be tricky.

Post 2

I have heard that acid reflux cough can be caused by smoking. Does anyone know if this is true? I can see how this could be so since smoking does cause coughing. Most smokers get some type of cough when they smoke for years, as well as other problems.

Post 1

The foods you eat can have a lot to do with digestive problems that you have. Most stomach pains and aches can be avoided when you watch what you eat. You might be surprised how changing a few of the foods you eat can make a difference.

This article mentions that you should stay away from certain foods that cause heartburn. This is a good acid reflux remedy. I used to drink regularly. I didn't get drunk, but I would have a couple drinks a day more often than not. When I began having stomach issues, a friend told me to cut back on alcohol for a while. I did, and I felt much better.

I felt so much better that I decided to cut way back on alcohol for good. I still have a drink from time to time, but I can go months without drinking and my stomach is much better.

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