Although heartburn is a common and characteristic symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), other symptoms?including regurgitation, postprandial indigestion (dyspepsia), and a variety of respiratory symptoms? may occur. GERD is as common in women as it is in men; however, little is known about its presentation in women.
In the August 2004 issue of The American Journal of Gastroenterology, Mona Lin, MD, and colleagues reported on the results of their study that examined patterns of symptomatic GERD and the spectrum of disease activity in women (n = 202) and compared them with those in a cohort of disease-matched and age-matched men (n = 341). No differences in the magnitude of esophageal acid exposure or in motility abnormalities were noted between the 2 groups. Quantitative esophageal symptom analysis, however, revealed significantly higher symptom severity scores for heartburn (P < .01), regurgitation (P < .05), belching (P < .01), and nocturnal symptoms (P < .01) in women than in men.
The authors concluded that the severity of symptoms in women is significantly greater than that in men. This difference may contribute to earlier disease recognition and differences in disease management.