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J Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2012 Jul;18(3):278-83. doi: 10.5056/jnm.2012.18.3.278. Epub 2012 Jul 10.

Atypical symptoms in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease.

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Department of Medicine, Buddhist Tzu Chi General Hospital and Tzu Chi University, Hualien, Taiwan.



Atypical symptoms are common in gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Patients with non-erosive reflux disease (NERD) and erosive reflux disease (ERD) exhibit different clinical characteristics and responses to acid suppression treatment. We aimed to compare atypical characteristics in patients with NERD and ERD. We also investigated the presence of histological esophagitis in patients with NERD and ERD.


Eligible patients completed a questionnaire regarding reflux symptoms and concomitant atypical symptoms. Endoscopic biopsies with histological examination were performed.


Of the 210 patients with GERD, 90 patients with ERD and 120 patients with NERD were studied. ERD patients were characterized by higher prevalence of hiatal hernia (P = 0.001) and smoking (P = 0.047). The prevalence of GERD was greater in the age group between 41 and 60 years regardless of endoscopic finding. There was no difference in the prevalence of atypical symptoms or histological esophagitis between NERD and ERD. In all subjects, heartburn was associated with dysphagia (r = 0.16, P = 0.01), dyspepsia (r = 0.22, P = 0.008) and hiccup (r = 0.19, P = 0.003), whereas acid regurgitation was associated with dyspepsia (r = 0.21, P = 0.014), belching (r = 0.15, P = 0.018) and hiccup (r = 0.19, P = 0.002).


Atypical symptoms did not correlate with the presence of histological esophagitis. Atypical symptoms were equally prevalent in patients with NERD and ERD. The existence of atypical symptoms appears to be associated with the presence of typical reflux symptoms irrespective of endoscopic and histological reflux esophagitis.


Atypical symptoms; Gastroesophageal reflux; Prevalence

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