Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Prevalence of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease symptoms and reflux-associated respiratory symptoms in asthma

Lakmali D Amarasiri1*, Arunasalam Pathmeswaran2, H Janaka de Silva3 and Channa D Ranasinha4

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya, Ragama, Sri Lanka

2 Department of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya, Ragama, Sri Lanka

3 Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya, Ragama, Sri Lanka

4 Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya, Ragama, Sri Lanka

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BMC Pulmonary Medicine 2010, 10:49  doi:10.1186/1471-2466-10-49

Published: 15 September 2010



Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) symptoms are common in asthma and have been extensively studied, but less so in the Asian continent. Reflux-associated respiratory symptoms (RARS) have, in contrast, been little-studied globally. We report the prevalence of GORD symptoms and RARS in adult asthmatics, and their association with asthma severity and medication use.


A cross-sectional analytical study. A validated interviewer-administered GORD scale was used to assess frequency and severity of seven GORD symptoms. Subjects were consecutive asthmatics attending medical clinics. Controls were matched subjects without respiratory symptoms.


The mean (SD) composite GORD symptom score of asthmatics was significantly higher than controls (21.8 (17.2) versus 12.0 (7.6); P < 0.001) as was frequency of each symptom and RARS. Prevalence of GORD symptoms in asthmatics was 59.4% (95% CI, 59.1%-59.6%) versus 28.5% in controls (95% CI, 29.0% - 29.4%). 36% of asthmatics experienced respiratory symptoms in association with both typical and atypical GORD symptoms, compared to 10% of controls (P < 0.001). An asthmatic had a 3.5 times higher risk of experiencing a GORD symptom after adjusting for confounders (OR 3.5; 95% CI 2.5-5.3). Severity of asthma had a strong dose-response relationship with GORD symptoms. Asthma medication use did not significantly influence the presence of GORD symptoms.


GORD symptoms and RARS were more prevalent in a cohort of Sri Lankan adult asthmatics compared to non-asthmatics. Increased prevalence of RARS is associated with both typical and atypical symptoms of GORD. Asthma disease and its severity, but not asthma medication, appear to influence presence of GORD symptoms.