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Symptoms of GERD

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Gastroesophageal reflux disease patients present a variety of symptoms, most commonly heartburn and regurgitation. Less common GERD-associated symptoms include chest pain, a range of ear, nose and throat (ENT) problems and respiratory difficulties. Severe GERD is a chronic, relapsing condition, which occurs even while a patient is on acid suppression therapy or redevelops GERD symptoms after cessation of the therapy. Severe GERD is associated with significant morbidity and the possibility of mortality from complications.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease presentation differs between the elderly and the younger adults. Elderly patients with GERD do not often present with heartburn or acid regurgitation.1 However, they report frequent symptoms such as  (difficulty in swallowing), vomiting and respiratory difficulties. Owing to this difference in the symptom profile, GERD may remain undiagnosed in the elderly patients for a considerable period of time.

It may be difficult to detect GERD in infants and children as the symptoms may vary from typical adult symptoms. Gastroesophageal reflux disease in children may cause repeated vomiting, coughing, respiratory problems, failure to gain adequate weight, inconsolable crying, bad breath and belching.

References

1. Pilotto A, Franceschi M. Gastro-esophageal reflux disease in the elderly. In: Pilotto A, Malfertheiner P, Holt P, eds. Aging and the Gastrointestinal Tract. Interdisciplinary Topics in Gerontology Basel: Karger Press, 2003; 32: 100-117.