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Reflux symptoms and disorders and pulmonary disease in former World Trade Center rescue and recovery workers and volunteers.

de Ia Hoz RE; Christie J; Teamer JA; Bienenfeld LA; Afilaka AA; Crane M; Levin SM; Herbert R
J Occup Environ Med 2008 Dec; 50(12):1351-1354
BACKGROUND: Gastroesophageal reflux disease is one of the most prevalent conditions among former World Trade Center (WTC) rescue and recovery workers. The reason for this proposed association with an inhalation injury is unclear. In this study, we clinically characterized the reflux disorders in former WTC workers, and we investigated their association with pulmonary function abnormalities and with clinical diagnoses of other WTC-related diseases. METHODS: Forty-two former WTC workers underwent the following testing: symptom inventories, physical examination, spirometry, esophagogastroduodenoscopy, and 24-hour pH monitoring studies for the evaluation of chronic reflux-like symptoms. Patients were classified into two groups based on clinical evaluation: group 1 (reflux patients) including definitive reflux disorders (gastroesophageal reflux, nonerosive reflux, nonacid reflux, and laryngopharyngeal reflux diseases) and group 2 (no-reflux patients) patients without clinically significant reflux disease, including functional heartburn, and hypersensitive esophagus disorder. RESULTS: The reflux and no-reflux patients had significantly different Johnson-DeMeester scores and esophageal acid exposure times. Patients with reflux disorders were more likely to have reduced forced vital capacity (chi2 = 5.49, P = 0.031) and also more likely to have been diagnosed with a lower airway disease (chi2 = 7.14, P = 0.008). We found no significant association between reflux and psychiatric disorders (chi2 = 0.02, P = 0.89), levels of exposure at the WTC site, or incidence of dry cough, or other upper airway disorders. CONCLUSIONS: A spectrum of reflux symptoms and disorders are present in WTC responders. Our data suggest that the presence of reflux disease is related to that of pulmonary function abnormality suggestive of air trapping and a diagnosis of a lower respiratory disease. <a href=""target="_blank">Erratum in J Occup Environ Med. 2009 Apr;51(4):509. </a> There was an error in Table 1. The diagnosis of hypersensitive esophagus syndrome (HSE), is grouped as "(Definite) reflux" The correct designation is "No reflux."
Gastrointestinal-system; Gastrointestinal-system-disorders; Diseases; Rescue-workers; Inhalants; Injuries; Pulmonary-function; Pulmonary-system; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Physiology; Physiological-function; Physical-examination; Spirometry; Humans; Men; Women; Lung; Lung-disorders; Lung-function; Mental-disorders
Rafael E. de la Hoz, MD, MPH, Department of Community and Preventive Medicine, and Medicine, The Mount Sinai School of Medicine, One Gustave Levy Place, Box 1059, New York, NY 10029
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U10-OH-008232; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U10-OH-008225
Issue of Publication
Source Name
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Performing Organization
Mount Sinai School of Medicine of New York
Page last reviewed: May 11, 2023
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division