Transdermal nicotine and gastroesophageal reflux

Am J Gastroenterol. 1995 Jun;90(6):919-21.


Objectives: Studies have shown that cigarette smoking acutely increases gastroesophageal reflux (GER). Patients prescribed transdermal nicotine often complain of pyrosis. The purpose of this study was to ascertain the effect of transdermal nicotine on GER.

Methods: Twenty volunteers (12 smokers and eight nonsmokers) were studied with a 24-h pH/motility apparatus while wearing a placebo patch for 24 h and a nicotine patch for a subsequent 24-h period. Each subject completed the entire 48-h monitoring session.

Results: A significant increase in the total acid score (p = 0.005), duration of acid exposure (p = 0.010), and supine duration of acid exposure (p = 0.004) were noted with transdermal nicotine versus placebo. There were no significant differences in esophageal motility after transdermal nicotine.

Conclusions: Whether enhanced supine reflux is related to lower esophageal sphincter dysfunction, increased acid secretion, or defective acid clearance is not clear. Nonetheless, it may be prudent to recommend removal of the transdermal nicotine patch at night in the patient with symptomatic nocturnal GERD.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Esophagus / metabolism
  • Esophagus / physiopathology
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / chemically induced*
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Middle Aged
  • Monitoring, Physiologic
  • Nicotine / administration & dosage
  • Nicotine / adverse effects*
  • Peristalsis
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Supine Position


  • Nicotine