Gastroesophageal reflux disease, functional dyspepsia and irritable bowel syndrome: common overlapping gastrointestinal disorders

Ann Gastroenterol. 2018 Nov-Dec;31(6):639-648. doi: 10.20524/aog.2018.0314. Epub 2018 Sep 26.


Several studies have indicated an overlap between gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and various functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs). The overlapping conditions reported have mainly been functional dyspepsia (FD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The available literature is frequently based on symptomatic questionnaires or endoscopic procedures to diagnose GERD. Rarely, among patients with heartburn, pathophysiological evaluations have been considered to differentiate those with proven GERD from those without. Moreover, both GERD and IBS or FD showed enormous heterogeneity in terms of the criteria and diagnostic procedures used. The GERD-IBS overlap ranges from 3-79% in questionnaire-based studies and from 10-74% when GERD has been diagnosed endoscopically. The prevalence of functional dyspepsia (after normal upper endoscopy) is 12-15% and an overlap with GERD has been reported frequently. Only a few studies have considered a potential overlap between functional heartburn (FH) and IBS using a 24-h pH-metry or impedance-pH evaluation. Similar data has been reported for an overlap between FH and FD. Recently, a revision of the Rome criteria for esophageal FGIDs identified both FH and hypersensitive esophagus (HE) as potential functional esophageal disorders. This might increase the potential overlap between different FGIDs, with FH and HE rather than with GERD. The aim of the present review article was to appraise and discuss the current evidence supporting the possible concomitance of GERD with IBS and FD in the same patients and to evaluate how various GERD treatments could impact on the quality of life of these patients.

Keywords: Gastroesophageal reflux disease; functional dyspepsia; irritable bowel syndrome; proton pump inhibitor; symptomatic questionnaires.

Publication types

  • Review