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Asthma/Since when is the lower GI tract connected to the respiratory system?


I am a 61 year old asthma sufferer.  My asthma is currently (somewhat) under control.  I haven't had a full attack in 4 years, although my chest will get tight every once in a while upon exertion.  Lately...just before that happens I will have a bout with painful abdominal cramps and lower back pain then I'll get diarrhea  My questions are...

1. Are these “additional” symptoms “normal”?
2. Are they actually related to the asthma or is it just a crazy coincidence?  
3. If they are “normal” and related to the asthma....would you please explain how and why? (because, for the life of me I can't figure out the physiological connection.)

Hi Candy,
   These symptoms in and of themselves are not normal. You should go to see your physician and have those symptoms evaluated.

    Is far is triggering the asthma, there could be a correlation here. A nerve, called the vagus nerve, is connected to the lungs as well as the entire intestinal tract. So, when you have a flare, the nerve is triggering the airways to tighten up. It's very important to get to the bottom of the problem to be successful in your therapy.

Hope this helps. If you've any further questions, feel free to get back to me.




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Marc Rubin, RPh Asthma Educator


I have worked directly with patients as well as caregivers for over 30 years. Have made presentations throughout Illinois educating school nurses as well as the teaching and coaching staff of public schools about asthma, and how they should respond to these students needs. Presented a public education program on asthma through the US Department of Public Health. Specialize in helping guide asthmatic patients to take control of their disease in order to live a near-normal, fully active life.


Practicing pharmacist for 40 years, specializing in asthma and COPD for 12 years. Developed nationwide education to nurses, teachers and athletic coaches regarding asthma and exercise induced bronchospasm. In addition, and closer to home. my daughter has asthma, and my son has exercise induced bronchospasm. In addition, I serve on the boards and committees of a number of asthma organizations: Sports, Exercise and Fitness Committee of AAAAI, Population Health Committee and Sports Medicine Committee of ACAAI, Sports Medicine Committee of the World Allergy Association. Board of Directors of the Chicago Asthma Consortium, Board of Directors of the Christopher D. Redding Youth Asthma Foundation, as well as the advisory board of a medical education company, Emmi Solutions. Directly involved in the creation of public education programs for asthma, COPD and diabetes.

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology / Sports Medicine Committee, American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology / Population Health Committee and Sports Medicine, American College of Chest Physicians, American Thoracic Society. World Allergy Association, Chicago Asthma Consortium / Professional Development Committee, Christopher D. Redding Youth Asthma Foundation, and Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago: Development Committee for AE-C prep class, and presenter.

AAAAI PowerPoint on the new guidelines for EIB (Exercise Induced Bronchospasm), AAAAI Powerpoint on Asthma in School Setting for Teachers and Coaches, Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology: Transition guide for teens with food allergies or asthma going out of the home to live independantly.

BScPharm, RPh, (NAECB Certified asthma educator in 2002), NIPCO Certified Respiratory Care Pharmacist

Past/Present Clients
Emmi Solutions, Chicago Next Level Health, Chicago

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