Statistics and Facts

Prevalence and Occurrence

  • Sixty percent of the adult population will experience some type of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) within a 12 month period and 20 to 30 percent will have weekly symptoms. 1
  • Approximately seven million people in the United States have some symptoms of GERD. 2
  • In 2004, approximately 20 percent of the United States population reported reflux symptoms that occurred at least weekly. 3  
  • Yearly hospitalizations with obesity diagnoses increased in the United States by 112 percent between 1996 and 2004. Obesity is linked to the development of GERD and frequency of symptoms. 1
  • Primary or secondary GERD diagnosis increased by an unprecedented 216 percent or from a total of 995,402 individuals diagnosed in 1998 to 3,141,965 in 2005. 1
  • Children with GERD symptoms who were hospitalized with a primary GERD diagnosis increased by 42 percent in infants and 84 percent in children between the ages of two and 17. 1
  • In 2005, 9.1 percent of hospitalizations for GERD also included health concerns such as weight loss, vomiting, and anemia. These symptoms can signal GERD and other esophageal disorders. 1                       
  • 4.2 percent of all people hospitalized with GERD in 2005 also had an esophageal disorder. From 1998 to 2005, other esophageal disorders also had a higher rate of diagnosis of GERD with dysphagia (264 percent), esophageal adenocarcinoma (195 percent) and esophagitis (94 percent). 1
  • In the United States, 1,150 deaths in 2004 were directly related to a primary diagnosis of GERD. 3
  • Individuals that report weekly reflux symptoms have been affected by the symptoms for more than five years. 4
  • In a 2000 mail survey, 130, 000 individuals reported that they had signs of reflux disease and heartburn. Of these, 95 percent reported symptoms occurring for more than one year and half reported symptoms that had occurred for more than five years. Of these, 75 percent reported that the symptoms occurred at least twice a week. 4
  • Fifty percent of all people questioned regarding GERD symptoms report that they have more heartburn at night than in the day. Sixty-three percent reported difficulty sleeping and 40 percent reported that daily functioning was compromised the next day. 4
  • Approximately one percent of all people in the United States with a diagnosis of GERD also have a condition known as Barrett's esophagus. This is more commonly seen in men, particularly Caucasian men, and rarely occurs in children. There are no specific symptoms associated with Barrett's esophagus, and usually the diagnosis of GERD also finds the changes in the esophagus that are consistent with this condition. The average age of diagnosis for Barrett's esophagus is 50, which is consistent with the timing of the diagnosis of GERD for many adults. 

Medical and Other Costs

  • In 2004, there were 18.3 million ambulatory care visits to healthcare professionals in emergency rooms, physicians’ offices, and clinics. 3
  • Approximately 3.1 million people were hospitalized in the United States in 2004 for GERD-related symptoms, complications, and treatment. 3
  • There are approximately 64.6 million prescriptions written for GERD medications in the United States on an annual basis. 3
  • Approximately 5 percent of all patient consults that a primary care physician completes will be related to GERD. 4
  • People with GERD have a lower reported health-related qualify of life, which includes reduced enjoyment of food (80 percent), sleep problems (60 percent), and work concentration difficulties when symptoms were present (40 percent). 4
  • It’s estimated by the American College of Gastroenterology that the symptoms of GERD result in almost $2 billion in lost productivity each week of the year. 5

Age, Gender, and Other Factors

  • In 2004, approximately 27 percent of all elderly patients on Medicare used GERD medications, including antacids and anti-secretory agents, for a total cost of $5.6 billion. 1
  • Between 1998 and 2005, the elderly accounted for 30 percent of hospitalizations with primary GERD diagnoses and 50 percent of all diagnoses of GERD without hospitalization. 1
  • GERD is most often diagnosed in individuals over the age of 40, with approximately 50 percent of all individuals diagnosed with GERD between the ages of 45 and 64. 2
  • Women are more likely to be hospitalized for GERD symptoms than men. Women accounted for 62 percent of all hospitalizations for GERD in 2005, with the highest percentage occurring in the South (approximately 40.9 female GERD patients seen per 100,000 people). 1
  • Hospital stays for people with Primary GERD diagnoses and below median income levels rose by approximately 31 percent between 1998 and 2005, while they decreased over the same period of time for households above the median income level by 16 percent or more. 1
  • It’s estimated that worldwide, approximately 5 to 7 percent of the total population has symptoms of GERD, which is most commonly reported as heartburn that occurs on a daily or frequent basis. 5