Bad Sleep? Think Gastric Reflux

THURSDAY, Oct. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Many sleepless Americans may have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) to blame, a new study finds.

Researchers from Jefferson University Medical College, Philadelphia, observed the sleep patterns of 16 people with a history of bad sleep but with no known medical problems that might cause their sleep difficulties. They had not previously been diagnosed or treated for GERD.

Eight of the study volunteers experienced daytime symptoms of reflux while the other eight did not appear to have any symptoms of acid reflux. After an initial overnight stay, the volunteers with the reflux symptoms took 20 milligrams of the acid-reducing drug omeprazone twice daily for the next two to three weeks. They then returned for a second overnight stay at the Jefferson Sleep Disorders Center.

Six volunteers with reflux symptoms who experienced the worst sleep problems benefited the most from the drug treatment for reflux. The other two volunteers with reflux symptoms also benefited from the treatment, but to a lesser extent, the study said.

"We believe that this was the first objective study of its kind -- where sleep events were correlated with reflux episodes," study author Dr. Anthony DiMarino, a professor of medicine and director of the division of gastroenterology and hepatology at Jefferson, said in a prepared statement.

"It indicates that there may be a correlation between having a poor night's sleep and acid reflux episodes during the night in patients who were not previously diagnosed with GERD," DiMarino said.

The findings appear in the September issue of Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics.

"Based on our studies, before a person begins taking sleeping pills to achieve a more restful night's sleep, he or she should check with a family practice physician or gastroenterologist to see if they may have GERD," DiMarino noted.

More information

The U.S. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse has more about GERD ( ).

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Jefferson Medical College, news release, September 2005

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