The number of people hospitalized because of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) in the USA rose 103% between the period 1998 and 2005, according to details published by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRC). During that same period there was a 216% rise in the number of patients hospitalized for other ailments but who also had milder forms of GERD.

A person who suffers GERD experiences chronic heartburn because stomach acid backs up into the esophagus. Left untreated GERD can cause bleeding in the esophagus, the patient may have difficulty swallowing – in some extreme cases cancer of the esophagus can develop.

The AHRQ also reports that the number of people hospitalized just for GERD rose from 91,000 in 1998 to 95,000 in 2005, an increase of about 5%. Among those hospitalizations, the number of people suffering from severe symptoms, such as vomiting, anemia and weight loss rose 39%. There was a 43% increase in the number of patients hospitalized for less severe symptoms, such as chronic coughing, bloating, belching and hoarseness.

During the same period there was an 84% increase in the number of 2-17 year olds hospitalized for GERD, and a 42% increase among infant under the age of 2.

The report is based on information from Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) Hospitalizations in 1998 and 2005 (PDF).

Written by – Christian Nordqvist