Clinical Practice Update: Extraesophageal Symptoms Attribute to Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

A recent practice update (MF Vaezi, D Katzka, F Zerbib. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2018; 16: 1018-29) reviews the data and provides up-to-date recommendations for extraesophageal symptoms attributed to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) in adults.

Extraesophageal symptoms attributed to GERD could include cough, asthma, hoarseness, sore throat, sinusitis, dental erosions, and ear pain.

Key recommendations:

  • Non-GI evaluations by ENT, pulmonary and/or allergy are essential and often should be performed initially in most patients.
  • “Abnormalities seen on endoscopy have poor predictive value for determination of GERD as the cause of extraesophageal symptoms”
  • “Ambulatory pH/impedance monitoring…have limited ability to establish GERD as the cause of an extraesophageal symptom.  The main role of testing is to document the absence of GERD.”
  • Empiric therapy with ‘aggressive’ acid suppression for 6-8 weeks can help in assessing association between reflux and extraesophageal symptoms.
  • Testing for reflux on therapy should be considered mainly in those with high probability of baseline reflux (eg. previous esophagitis, Barrett’s esophagus, or prior abnormal pH study).
  • Surgical treatment is discouraged in those with extraesophageal reflux symptoms unresponsive to aggressive PPI therapy

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