Most previous studies of reflux symptom prevalence are of small sample size.
No reliable data concerning age- and sex-stratified prevalence are available.
Dr Nilsson and colleagues from Sweden and Norway enlisted 65,363 adult participants in a public health survey in Nord-Trondelag, Norway.
A total of 58,596 (90%) responded concerning occurrence and severity of heartburn or regurgitation during the past 12 months.
The research group calculated the prevalence of minor, severe and any reflux symptoms, including stratification for age and sex.
In order to examine whether the relative risk of reflux symptoms between sexes, in different age groups, was affected by other potential risk factors for reflux, the researchers tested confounding effects using multivariate logistic regression.
The group then used odds ratios and their 95% confidence intervals to estimate relative risks.
About every third adult person suffered from reflux symptoms
|Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology|
The researchers found that the total prevalence of reflux symptoms was 31.4%, where 26.0% were minor symptoms and 5.4% severe symptoms.
The research group also noted that the prevalence of symptoms occurring at least weekly was 11.6%.
The researchers found that among women, the prevalence increased gradually from 22.1% in the youngest age category to 37.5% in the oldest.
However, in men prevalence of symptoms gradually increased from 25.8% in the youngest age group to peak at 36.0% between the ages of 50 and 60 years, after which it declined to 33.8% after age 70.
The researchers could not explain the higher prevalence among women compared to men in the oldest age groups after considering the confounding effects of body mass, tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption, dietary factors, or physical exercise.
Dr Nilsson concluded, "About every third adult person suffered from reflux symptoms."
"The prevalence increases linearly with age among women, while among men it peaked between the age of 50 and 70 years and thereafter declined."