The prevalence of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms in the general population is lower in Asian than Western countries. Data are lacking for countries in the Middle East. The aim of the study was to determine the prevalence and severity of GERD symptoms among Israeli Jews. A questionnaire including 8 specific questions for GERD symptoms was administered by telephone interview to a representative sample of the population. One thousand two hundred twenty-one of 1839 individuals were successfully contacted and 981 had valid, complete data. The mean age was 45.0 years and 55% were females. Over the previous year 34.8% of the respondents reported suffering any GERD symptom. Of these 11.6% reported retrosternal burning, 11.7% retrosternal pain, 19.0% an acid taste in the mouth, and 17.5% reflux of gastric content. In all, 6.5%, 5.2%, 10.4%, and 7.9%, respectively, suffered these symptoms at least once a week, and 2.0%, 1.8%, 2.4%, and 2.3%, respectively, defined their symptoms as frequent and severe. Male sex (P=0.01) and a functional lower gastrointestinal (GI) disorder (P<0.0001) contributed significantly to the severity of upper GI refluxlike symptoms. In conclusion, GERD symptoms are common among Israeli Jews. The symptoms are generally of mild-to-moderate severity and are significantly associated with lower functional GI disorders.
*Department of Gastroenterology, Soroka University Medical Center
†Faculty of the Health Sciences
Departments of ∥Family Medicine
¶Epidemiology, Faculty of the Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel
‡Sial Research Center for Family Medicine and Primary Care
§Department of Gastroenterology, Tel-Aviv Medical Center, Tel-Aviv, Israel
Supported by research grant no. 4787 from the Israel Ministry of Health.
Reprints: Ami D. Sperber, MD, MSPH, Department of Gastroenterology, Soroka Medical Center, Beer-Sheva, Israel 84101 (e-mail: email@example.com).
Received for publication April 9, 2006; accepted August 23, 2006