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Lung Diseases May Affect More than Lungs

Chronic lung conditions in adults, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and bronchiectasis, may lead to gastroesophageal reflux according to a recent study published in the August issue of Respirology, Proximal and distal gastro-oesophageal reflux in COPD and bronchiectasis.


The study, which examined patients with COPD or bronchiectasis against a control group, found that those living with these chronic lung conditions were twice as likely to have reflux problems as those without lung disease, leaving researchers to believe that gastroesophageal reflux— a condition in which acid from the stomach leaks back up into the esophagus – is a common side effect of these lung conditions.


To reach this conclusion, researchers at the Melbourne School of Health Sciences at The University of Melbourne studied 27 participants who had COPD, 27 participants with bronchiectasis and 17 control participants without lung disease. Of the participants, 17 with COPD and 16 with bronchiectasis had previously been prescribed anti-reflux therapy.


Each participant completed a questionnaire about their reflux symptoms, then had the level of acid in their esophagus measured for 24 hours. Those participants with lung disease also had their pepsin levels (the substance in the stomach that helps break down food) measured and the severity of their lung disease monitored. 


With this information, researchers used the data collected to determine the prevalence of gastroesophageal reflux in all participants. 


Of the participants without lung disease, 18 percent were diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux. That is compared to 37 percent of patients who had COPD and 40 percent of patients who had bronchiectasis. Meaning those participants with chronic lung conditions were twice as likely to have reflux problems than those without lung disease.


Researchers note that the severity of the lung disease did not affect the participants’ likelihood of having gastroesophageal reflux. Further, many of those individuals diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux did not exhibit any obvious symptoms.


These findings may affect the way that doctors look for reflux symptoms in patients with chronic lung conditions.


Click here to access the full story from Respirology.