Study objectives: A link between gastroesophageal reflux (GER) and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) has been suggested; however, the prevalence and frequency of symptomatic GER and the influence of OSA severity on GER are not known.
Design and patients: Two hundred seventy-one subjects referred for overnight sleep studies were investigated for subjects with a breathing sleep disorder, occurrence of symptomatic GER, potential risk factors for both conditions, and comorbidity using a validated questionnaire.
Results: Overall, 160 of the 228 respondents (73%; 135 subjects with OSA and 93 subjects who snore) reported GER-related symptoms, with heartburn and/or acid regurgitation being the leading symptoms. No evidence of a difference in the occurrence of symptomatic GER between subjects who snore and subjects with OSA was observed (odds ratio [OR], 1.21; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.7 to 2.1). Furthermore, the occurrence of reflux symptoms was not influenced by the severity of OSA (OR per 10 4% arterial oxygen saturation [Sao2] dips per hour, 0.98; 95% CI, 0.8 to 1.1). Self-reported comorbidity was higher in subjects with OSA compared with subjects who snore (p = 0.02), but none of the potential risks produced an association with the presence of reflux symptoms in this sample of patients with a breathing sleep disorder.
Conclusion: We conclude that symptomatic GER is common in subjects with a breathing sleep disorder, but there was no difference between those with OSA and subjects who snore.