Background: Weekly symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occur in 20% of the population, and GERD has been implicated in the pathophysiology of many respiratory diseases. Microaspiration of contaminated water is a potential portal of entry for Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) organisms into the respiratory tract, and acid-suppression therapy may enhance the survival of mycobacteria in the stomach. This study aimed to assess the prevalence of GERD, swallowing disorders, reflux symptoms, and acid-suppression therapy in patients with MAC lung disease (MAC positive [MAC+]), and to compare these patients to control subjects without MAC lung disease (MAC negative [MAC−]).
Methods: Clinical information was collected on 58 MAC+ patients and 58 age- and sex-matched MAC− patients who were asked to complete a DeMeester questionnaire of reflux symptoms and to identify any acid-suppressive medication consumed.
Results: A clinical diagnosis of GERD was documented in 23 of 52 MAC+ patients (44.2%), compared to 16 MAC− patients (27.6%) [p = 0.019]. MAC+ patients consumed significantly more histamine type 2 receptor antagonists and prokinetic agents, and MAC− patients consumed more antacids. The mean DeMeester questionnaire score (± SD) for MAC+ patients was 1.39 ± 1.8, and for MAC− patients was 0.88 ± 1.4. (p = 0.098). Aspiration was suspected in nine MAC+ patients (15.5%), compared to three MAC− patients (5.2%) [p = 0.032]. There was no association between GERD and radiologic presentation of MAC disease. Consolidation and nodules > 5 mm were more common in those receiving acid suppression than those who were not.
Conclusions: GERD, acid suppression, and clinically suspected aspiration are more common in patients with MAC lung disease than in similar patients without MAC disease.