How to tell if it's asthma or acid reflux

ORLANDO, Fla. – Coughing, wheezing, crying … asthma is never fun for a child. But now there are new guidelines for better treatment … unless something else is disguised as asthma.

The CDC says about one in 10 children have asthma, and the numbers are only increasing in the United States. If your child has asthma, you’re probably familiar with the coughing, wheezing, chest pain and shortness of breath.

But now, the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology has created a guideline which helps doctors understand which treatments belong with different age groups, and how parents can set up new therapies if the old ones aren’t working. But some doctors are realizing that children’s “asthma” symptoms may be something else entirely.

Jamie Koufman, MD, FACS, New York Eye & Ear Infirmary of the Mt. Sinai Medical System says, “Reflux is the great masquerader of our time, and it affects millions and millions of children.” 

Koufman says the junk food given to kids at night can make acid reflux look like asthma or allergies.

“If your child always has respiratory symptoms, be it ear symptoms, nose symptoms, cough symptoms, breathing symptoms, allergy symptoms, sinus symptoms, asthma and they’re not getting better … and it goes on and on and on, think respiratory reflux,” Koufman continues.

Acid reflux symptoms do not always include heartburn, it can present as chronic dry cough or difficulty swallowing. Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.

Contributors to this news report include: Hayley Hudson, Field Producer; and Roque Correa, Editor