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Medical treatment for reflux oesophagitis does not consistently improve asthma control: a systematic review


BACKGROUND A systematic literature review was conducted to assess the effect of treating reflux oesophagitis on asthma outcomes.

METHODS Randomised controlled trials of reflux oesophagitis treatment in adults or children that reported asthma health outcomes were included and assessed in accordance with the standard Cochrane systematic review process. Patients were typically adults with asthma and concurrent symptomatic gastro-oesophageal reflux who received interventions that included pharmacological therapy, conservative management, and surgery. The following outcome measures were assessed: lung function, peak expiratory flow, asthma symptoms, asthma medications, and nocturnal asthma.

RESULTS From 22 potentially relevant published and unpublished randomised controlled trials, 12 were included. Treatment duration ranged from 1 week to 6 months. Eight trials reported that treatment improved at least one asthma outcome, but these outcomes differed between trials. Overall, treatment of reflux oesophagitis did not consistently improve forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), peak expiratory flow rate, asthma symptoms, nocturnal asthma symptoms, or use of asthma medications in asthmatic subjects. Significant improvement in wheeze was reported in two studies.

CONCLUSIONS The published literature does not consistently support treatment of reflux oesophagitis as a means of controlling asthma. Further large randomised controlled trials in subjects with a demonstrated temporal relationship between gastro-oesophageal reflux and asthma are needed. These trials should be conducted over at least 6 months to allow adequate time to observe a treatment effect.

  • asthma
  • gastro-oesophageal reflux
  • systematic review

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