Background: Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a common cause of discomfort and morbidity worldwide. However, information on determinants of GERD from large-scale studies in low- to medium-income countries is limited. We investigated the factors associated with different measures of GERD symptoms, including frequency, patient-perceived severity, and onset time.
Methods: We performed a cross-sectional analysis of the baseline data from a population-based cohort study of ∼ 50,000 individuals in in Golestan Province, Iran. GERD symptoms in this study included regurgitation and/or heartburn.
Results: Approximately 20% of participants reported at least weekly symptoms. Daily symptoms were less commonly reported by men, those of Turkmen ethnicity, and nass chewers. On the other hand, age, body mass index, alcohol drinking, cigarette smoking, opium use, lower socioeconomic status, and lower physical activity were associated with daily symptoms. Most of these factors showed similar associations with severe symptoms. Women with higher BMI and waist to hip ratio were more likely to report frequent and severe GERD symptoms. Hookah smoking (OR 1.34, 95% CI 1.02-1.75) and opium use (OR 1.70, 95% CI 1.55-1.87) were associated with severe symptoms, whereas nass chewing had an inverse association (OR 0.87, 95% CI 0.76-0.99). After exclusion of cigarette smokers, hookah smoking was still positively associated and nass chewing was inversely associated with GERD symptoms (all frequencies combined).
Conclusion: GERD is common in this population. The associations of hookah and opium use and inverse association of nass use with GERD symptoms are reported for the first time. Further studies are required to investigate the nature of these associations. Other determinants of GERD were mostly comparable to those reported elsewhere.