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Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2011 May;23(5):411-8, e172. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2982.2010.01658.x. Epub 2011 Jan 6.

Increase of weakly acidic gas esophagopharyngeal reflux (EPR) and swallowing-induced acidic/weakly acidic EPR in patients with chronic cough responding to proton pump inhibitors.

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Department of Gastroenterology, Gunma University Hospital, Maebashi, Gunma, Japan.



Gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD)-related chronic cough (CC) may have multifactorial causes. To clarify the characteristics of esophagopharyngeal reflux (EPR) events in CC patients whose cough was apparently influenced by gastro-esophageal reflux (GER), we studied patients with CC clearly responding to full-dose proton pump inhibitor (PPI) therapy (CC patients).


Ten CC patients, 10 GERD patients, and 10 healthy controls underwent 24-h ambulatory pharyngo-esophageal impedance and pH monitoring. Weakly acidic reflux was defined as a decrease of pH by >1 unit with a nadir pH >4. In six CC patients, monitoring was repeated after 8 weeks of PPI therapy. The number of each EPR event and the symptom association probability (SAP) were calculated. Symptoms were evaluated by a validated GERD symptom questionnaire.


Weakly acidic gas EPR and swallowing-induced acidic/weakly acidic EPR only occurred in CC patients, and the numbers of such events was significantly higher in the CC group than in the other two groups (P < 0.05, respectively). Symptom association probability analysis revealed a positive association between GER and cough in three CC patients. Proton pump inhibitor therapy abolished swallowing-induced acidic/weakly acidic EPR, reduced weakly acidic gas EPR, and improved symptoms (all P < 0.05).


Most patients with CC responding to PPI therapy had weakly acidic gas EPR and swallowing-induced acidic/weakly acidic EPR. A direct effect of acidic mist or liquid refluxing into the pharynx may contribute to chronic cough, while cough may also arise indirectly from reflux via a vago-vagal reflex in some patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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