ZocdocAnswersCan heart burn make breathing difficult?

Question

Can heart burn make breathing difficult?

If I am having difficulty breathing after I eat does that mean I have heart burn? Does heart burn have any affect on the way you breathe or cause trouble breathing?

Answer

For the most part, gastro-esophageal reflux (which causes heart burn) does not cause shortness of breath. The only exception to this rule would be if your reflux was so bad that some of your stomach contents that were refluxed into your lungs. This is possible, but would be accompanied by a lot of heart burn pain. Your question seems to suggest that you are not actually experiencing heart burn, but rather just shortness of breath after you eat. If you are experiencing heart burn AND shortness of breath, then reflux as a cause of your shortness of breath possible. In fact there are not that many conditions that I can think of that specifically cause shortness of breath that is only associated with eating. The only one that comes to mind is a food allergy that would cause edema in your throat and airways which would cause shortness of breath. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. He or she can listen to a more detailed account of your pattern of symptoms and determine what additional testing needs to be done. In addition, you would benefit from an medication that will help reflux, if that's what you are having.

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