Prevalence and Associated Features of Gastroesophageal Reflux Symptoms in a Caucasian-Predominant Adolescent School Population

Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, Advocate Lutheran General Children's Hospital, 1775 Dempster Street, Park Ridge, IL 60068, USA.
Digestive Diseases and Sciences (Impact Factor: 2.61). 02/2008; 53(9):2373-9. DOI: 10.1007/s10620-007-0150-5
Source: PubMed


To determine the prevalence of esophageal symptoms and associated symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux symptoms in 14-18 year-old high school students and the percentage of symptomatic adolescents who saw a physician or received medications.
A cross-sectional questionnaire administered to students at two high schools.
1,286 completed questionnaires were analyzed. The study sample consisted of 57% Caucasians and 57% males, with a mean age of 15.7 (+/-1.3) years.
No intervention was used. Participants completed questionnaires only.
714 students (56%) reported at least one esophageal or respiratory symptom. Esophageal symptoms reported were: heartburn (22%), regurgitation (21%), and dysphagia (15%). Respiratory symptoms reported were: shortness of breath (24%), wheezing (20%), and cough (18%). Students with at least one esophageal symptom were more likely to experience at least one respiratory symptom than were students with no esophageal symptoms (52% vs. 25%; p < 0.001). Cigarette, alcohol, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug use were risk factors for both respiratory and esophageal symptoms. Of those experiencing one or more of these symptoms, 4% reported that the symptoms affected their daily activities, 23% visited a physician, and 25% took medication in the past year.
Esophageal symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux are frequent in adolescents. Fewer than 25% of students with gastroesophageal reflux symptoms consulted a physician and/or took medications.

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