Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease Differs In Men And Women
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, more commonly known as acid reflux, may be experienced differently in men and women, according to new research.
Researchers in Austria looked at data from almost 2,000 people who were undergoing surgery to improve their GERD. The women in the study reported more symptoms of their disease than the men, including more heartburn and more trouble swallowing whole foods.
However, doctors found that the men in the study actually had more physical symptoms of the disease than women, including having weak valves at the point of meeting between the esophagus and the stomach, or having esophagitis, which is caused by chronic acid exposure and can result in inflammation and ulcers.
So why are men not reporting their symptoms as frequently as women? According to the researchers, men are less likely than women to report being in pain.
"In general, I think, in medicine, males tend to underreport the severity of their symptoms… I don't think there's a gender difference in the actual sensory pathways," said Anthony Starpoli, MD, associate director of esophageal endotherapy at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, as quoted by WebMD.
Men’s tendency to not seek help has resulted in significant consequences: four times as many men as women die from esophageal cancer.
Another reason for the results could be that different mechanical processes are involved in acid reflux in men and women.
The study was published in the Archives of Surgery.