Treatment with proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) may help decrease healthcare visits for acute respiratory infections (ARIs) in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). These are the findings of a new study published in PLOS One.

Increasing epidemiological evidence suggests a strong relationship between gastroesophageal reflux episodes and respiratory symptoms. In this study, researchers aimed to assess whether treatment with PPIs had an impact on subsequent healthcare utilization for ARIs. This population-based study included 21,486 patients diagnosed with GERD and 21,486 matched comparison patients without GERD.

During the 1-year period before and after the index date, annual ARI episodes were compared between the patient groups. To estimate the adjusted association between GERD treatment and subsequent annual ARI rate, multiple regression analysis using a difference-in-difference approach was used.

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Among GERD patients, the mean annual ARI episode dropped significantly by 11.4%, from 4.39 (during the year before PPI treatment) to 3.89 (after treatment with a PPI) (mean change = –0.5 visit, 95% confidence interval (CI) = (–0.64, –0.36)). Poisson regression analysis also showed that GERD treatment was independently linked to a significant reduction in annual ARI rate (p<0.001).

More studies are needed to validate these findings, as this is the first study to examine the benefit of PPI-treated GERD in reducing ARI complications. However, the authors note that “the study suggests that GERD treatment with PPIs may help reduce healthcare visits for ARIs, highlighting the importance of treatment-seeking by GERD patients and compliance with treatment.”

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