Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease in Older Adults: An Update

Mary Anne Cooper, MSc, MD, FRCPC, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Toronto; Lecturer, Sunnybrook and Women's Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, ON.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a common condition responsible for significant morbidity in older adults. It causes disease in the esophagus, and it is increasingly recognized as a cause of extra-esophageal symptoms such as chronic cough, adult-onset asthma, and hoarseness. Despite significant symptoms, endoscopy may be negative. Endoscopy-negative reflux disease may be a unique disease entity within the acid reflux group of disorders that includes erosive esophagitis and Barrett’s esophagus. Regardless of the symptoms or endoscopic findings, treatment remains geared to reducing the contact time between acid and sensitive tissue through lifestyle modification measures, acid suppression, and improved upper gastrointestinal motility.

Key words: GERD, extra-esophageal reflux, endoscopy-negative reflux disease, acid suppression, older adults.