Aspiration cannot be completely prevented. But the risk of gastroesophageal reflux and aspiration in people with cystic fibrosis can be reduced by changes to meal size and frequency, eating foods to reduce reflux, changes to sleep and bed positions, and seeking professional healthcare advice about medications.
Gastroesophageal reflux is one of the main factors that can contribute to aspiration in cystic fibrosis patients. It occurs when stomach acids travel upward into the esophagus.
Unlike regular aspiration, where a person reacts to a liquid or solid entering their lungs by coughing, or having difficulty swallowing, during silent aspiration there are no symptoms and the person is unaware it is happening.
Gut bacteria can enter the lungs during acid reflux and aspiration — when a liquid or a solid is inhaled into the lungs by accident — and this can ultimately contribute to lung inflammation, a higher risk of infections, and poorer lung function in people with cystic fibrosis.