Background: Two types of reflux episodes have been identified: upright or daytime and supine or nocturnal. The population-based prevalence of symptoms of nocturnal gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and the impact of those symptoms on health-related quality of life (HRQL) have not been established.
Methods: A national random-sample telephone survey was conducted to estimate the prevalence of frequent GERD and nocturnal GERD-like symptoms and to assess the relationship between HRQL, GERD, and nocturnal GERD symptoms. Respondents were classified as controls, subjects with symptomatic nonnocturnal GERD, and subjects with symptomatic nocturnal GERD. The HRQL was assessed using the Medical Outcomes Study Short-Form 36 Health Survey (SF-36).
Results: The prevalence of frequent GERD was 14%, with an overall prevalence of nocturnal GERD of 10%. Seventy-four percent of those with frequent GERD symptoms reported nocturnal GERD symptoms. Subjects with nonnocturnal GERD had significant decrements on the SF-36 physical and mental component summary scores compared with the US general population. Subjects reporting nocturnal GERD symptoms were significantly more impaired than subjects reporting nonnocturnal GERD symptoms on both the physical component summary (38.94 vs 41. 52; P<.001) and mental component summary (46.78 vs 49.51; P<.001) and all 8 subscales of the SF-36 (P<.001). Subjects with nocturnal GERD demonstrated considerable impairment compared with the US general population and chronic disease populations. Subjects with nocturnal GERD had significantly more pain than those with hypertension and diabetes (P<.001) and similar pain compared with those with angina and congestive heart failure.
Conclusions: Nocturnal symptoms are commonly experienced by individuals who report frequent GERD symptoms. In addition, HRQL is significantly impaired in those persons who report frequent GERD symptoms, and HRQL impairment is exacerbated in those who report nocturnal GERD symptoms.