Hospitalisations for treating disorders caused by gastrooesophageal 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, hospitalisations 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 oesophagus, causing extreme, chronic heartburn. If untreated, GERD can cause oesophageal disorders such as bleeding, trouble swallowing, Barrett's oesophagus, a pre-cancerous condition, and in extreme cases, cancer of the oesophagus. AHRQ also found that:
- Hospitalisations 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 anaemia, vomiting and weight loss, increased by 39 percent. Hospitalisations for patients with less serious symptoms, such as hoarseness and chronic coughing, bloating, or belching, rose 43 percent.
- Hospitalisations for GERD in children ages 2 to 17 rose by 84 percent during the period, and 42 percent for infants under age 2.
This AHRQ News and Numbers is based on data in 'Gastrooesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) Hospitalisations in 1998 and 2005.' The report uses statistics from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of hospital inpatient stays that is nationally representative of inpatient stays in all short-term, non-Federal hospitals. The data are drawn from hospitals that comprise 90 percent of all discharges in the United States and include all patients, regardless of insurance type, as well as the uninsured.