Hospitalizations for treating disorders caused by gastroespohageal reflux disease (GERD ) increased by 103 percent between 1998 and 2005, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
During the same period, hospitalizations of patients who, in addition to the ailment for which they were admitted, had milder forms of GERD, rose by 216 percent.
In patients with GERD, stomach acid backs up into the esophagus, causing extreme, chronic heartburn. If untreated, GERD can cause esophageal disorders such as bleeding, trouble swallowing, Barrett's esophagus, a precancerous condition, and in extreme cases, cancer of the esophagus.
AHRQ also found that:
- Hospitalizations specifically for GERD increased roughly 5 percent, as a whole, during the period – from roughly 91,000 to 95,000.
- Among these, admissions of patients who had severe symptoms, such as anemia, vomiting and weight loss, increased by 39 percent. Hospitalizations for patients with less serious symptoms, such as hoarseness and chronic coughing, bloating, or belching, rose 43 percent.
- Hospitalizations for GERD in children ages 2 to 17 rose by 84 percent during the period, and 42 percent for infants under age 2.