Is It Asthma or Acid Reflux?

Updated on April 30, 2011
T.M. asks from Trumbull, CT
12 answers

Hello everyone . . .

My daughter is 6 1/2 years old and has recently been complaining that she's having trouble breathing. She falls asleep sitting up with me because she says she feels worse when she lays down. . . but she does sleep through the night. She does have viral induced asthma occasionally. When she gets a cold, she usually gets a cough . . . we use an inhaler for a week or so until her symptoms stop. Then we usually don't need the inhaler again until the next cold. I took her to the doctor when she first complained last week . . . but after examining her, they didn't hear any wheezing and at the time, she seemed to be okay. It happens at different times of the day . . . and we haven't been able to pin point a specific thing or trigger that's causing her breathing issues. I'm wondering if it could be allergy related. I'm trying Claritin and her inhaler a few times a day as her doctor suggested to see if there is any change.

Recently a friend of mine mentioned that it could be Acid Reflux. She said her son had it when he was younger. I checked for the symptoms in children online . . . and she does complain that her stomach bothers her occasionally . . . I've given her children's TUMS, but I know it's not strong enough for acid reflux, but I wanted to see if her symptoms subsided a bit . . . I'm just wondering if any of you have had to deal with acid reflux in a young child and what were some of the symptoms and things that seemed to help your child. I'm planning on calling the doctor again. Maybe they can prescribe her something temporarily to if it helps. I hate to put her on any kind of medication unless it's absolutely necessary . . . so I thought I'd try here and see what some of you would suggest . . . and I will probably be seeing her doctor again tomorrow.

Thank you in advance for your help.

T. M.

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So What Happened?

I took her to the doctor the other day and she seems to think that it's due to seasonal allergies . . . which may be causing asthma-like symptoms. My daughter is complaining that it's her throat that feels closed up . . . she's not coughing and she doesn't have any discomfort in her chest area . . . but the doctor prescribed Pro-Air, Q-VAR, a five-day dose of Prednisone and one Claritin a day to see if it helps. The doctor said to give it a week and call her back in about a week if it's still bothering her. She's eating normally and continuing her normal activities, school, playing, chatting a mile a minute, etc.. she's not gasping for air at all . . . she just says that she's just uncomfortable . . . so I'm going wait to see if the treatments work. The reason I thought it might be Acid Reflux was because she has in the past complained of her stomach hurting and heartburn . . . and occasionally feels juice or something come up and swallows it again . . . but she hasn't complained long enough and those symptoms are usually not consistant . . . but I thought I'd mention it to the doctor anyway. So I guess I'll have to wait and see what happens. Thank you to all of you for your advice and suggestions . . .and for taking the time to respond.

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answers from Dallas on

there is a connection between the two things so it could be both. My daughter gets the exact same symptoms you are talking about. The doc can't always hear wheezing when she's having asthma attacks but asthma is not just wheezing, it's bronchial inflammation. The doc won't always hear that. I do the same thing- provide her asthma meds until symptoms subside, until the next cold!

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answers from Eau Claire on

I have both acid reflux and asthma and it is hard for me to lay without my back propped up on a back cushion and pillows because the draining down the back of my throat keeps me coughing all night if I don't. If she's blowing out a lot of white stuff it's from allergies. That runs down the throat when laying down. Our sons Dr prescribed children's Claritin for him for 14 days because he had the start of a cough that would have turned into an infection if I would have waited a few days to take him in they said. So cough medicine and Claritin seem to be helping him. I think it sounds like allergies though. Acid reflux gives a nasty burning taste in the mouth. Does she get that?

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answers from Kansas City on

at 6 1/2 she should absolutely be able to tell the difference between asthma symptoms and acid reflux. ask her. but acid reflux is usually more likely in much younger children.



answers from Boston on

I think I'd ask for a chest x-ray and an ENT consult. The x-ray to check for an enlarged heart and ENT to check for structural abnormalities and/or a foreign body airway obstruction. I'd check those things before adding more meds to the mix. Obviously if she needed the Albuterol I'd give it, but I'd avoid adding more meds, even the tums, until she's had a more thorough work-up. Adults sometimes have to sleep sitting up because of obesity, sleep apnea or reflux, but I don't think any of those things are common in 6 year olds. I have heard of people having deviated septum, or other structural problems that prevent them from breathing through the nose while sleeping, or narrow nasal passages that make it difficult to breathe. I'd definitely get more info. Also, wheezing will not always occur with childhood asthma, and of course it doesn't always occur at the doctors office. Stay on top of it and go with your gut! If you're worried, get a second opinion!


answers from Boston on

Symptoms can be confusing, I know. Most conditions begin somewhere in the digestive system, believe it or not - stomach, intestines, etc. - not just the things you think of (reflux, constipation) but also including asthma and allergies. In addition, any respiratory conditions that increase congestion and result in swallowing mucus (cough, post-nasal drip, etc.) can irritate the stomach & gut. Boosting her immune system should take care of any/all of this. If you really don't want to use medications and inhalers all the time, you could pursue this nutritionally. Happy to help more if this is a route you'd like to try for 3 months to make some significant improvement.



answers from Houston on

I have heard there is a connection between the 2. so both may be an answer.



answers from Boston on

Sounds just like my son's asthma...his episodes are triggered by viruses and also sometimes in June with the grass may want to ask your pedi about a controller med for every day (flovent, symbicort....)Yeah, I know ...I'm not crazy about them either...but it's helped my son have fewr and/or milder exacerbations and less need for prednisone (yuck!!!)

Good luck



answers from Albuquerque on

I have one four year old with reflux and one four year old who may have asthma (going to talk to the doctor about it at her four year old checkup). The symptoms you describe don't sound like my reflux girl at all. For her, it hurts to lie down sometimes because the acid is coming back up out of her stomach. But it's an actual pain that she can point to, not trouble breathing. And colds don't bother her more than the average child. She rarely coughs... just complains about stomach aches and her throat hurting if the reflux is really severe that day.



answers from Jamestown on

My 4 year old has the same issues. Her Doctor put her on Singulair. It treats asthma and allergies. I even take it too. Works wonders.


answers from Eugene on

Your child has asthma. If you look into the literature on asthma you will find it can be hour specific. The gall bladder hour is 11PM to 1PM which is why a child with a defective or delicate gall bladder has asthma at that hour. If it is at 5-7 am it is large intestine and so on. For this you can look at books on Chinese Medicine.
My daughter had one asthma attack at age 15. I went into her room and used my power song to sing it out of her and her room. If she has an asthma attack ever by the time she finds her inhaler it is over. She has not got asthma just the insult of an allergin which goes in a few minutes as it does with most people.
I had asthma for 29 years it got worse and worse. All those expensive BIG PHARMA DRUGS stopped helping and started to destroy my eyes. No way could heal myself. I went to a homeopath who is brilliant and really listens. For five years now nothing. No medication. If I have an incident it goes away in an hour very little discomfort. Or I get eczema around my eyes.
This is the scoop. Within five years of developing asthma or any other chronic ailment it is as bad as it will ever get.
Here is my last diagnostic question. Do you have a cat.
Any parent who has a cat and an asthmatic child should get rid of the cat. Or give the child to someone who can raise him/her in a cat free loving environment.
I take no excuses about cats. If you have no allergies or asthma you can have a cat. They are the top allergen in every home.



answers from New York on

I had to respond to this b/c I understand what you mean. My nephew was thought to have asthma b/c he is constantly coughing. It's proven he has allergies (bad bad seasonal ones). Recently though the allergist suggested he could have acid reflux. On another note, my daughter has acid reflux. She was 3 when she began to spit up throw up. She complains of "yucky tastes" but now that she's 6 she says it's "ups and downs" or "reflux". She doesn't have trouble breathing though. I don't think I've helped, but want you to know that I think sometimes the 2 can be confusing. My son also coughs and has had similiar symptoms of both asthma and reflux. It's too early to assume he has one or the other. I hope you/we find answers!! God Bless



answers from Louisville on

I've had one child with reflux and one with asthma, and this sounds like asthma to me. Asthma can be allergy related (that's what we've dealt with as well; flare ups come in the spring when everything is blooming and in the fall when everything is dying). Our daughter's only asthma symptom initially was frequent waking in the night with a nasty sounding cough. This had gone on for over a month before her first all-out attack. If it's in the cough or mild wheezing stage, she will probably be prescribed Albuterol, which is pretty tame, medicine-wise, although it can cause some kids to become hyper immediately after a treatment. If the asthma is not controlled by the Albuterol, they'll usually prescribe something like Pulmicort, which is a longer term steroid prescription to prevent or reduce the bad asthma attacks. We had to give our daughter breathing treatments of Pulmicort daily for about a year before she stopped having trouble.

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