Surfing is a risk factor for GERD

from the Society of General Internal Medicine annual meeting, Miami Beach

courtesy flickr user surfing genie

courtesy flickr user surfing genie

Surfers have a 3.7 times increased risk of gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), according to a study that compared reflux symptoms in 185 surfers and 178 nonsurfing athletes.

“I’m a surfer,” said Dr. Marc Kaneshiro, an internal medicine resident at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.  He and his colleagues launched a study after hearing common complaints of GERD symptoms among his patients and friends who surf.

photo by Damian McNamara

photo by Damian McNamara

Increased intra-abdominal pressure caused by paddling prone on a surfboard would be the culprit, they proposed. They found 21% of surfers versus 7% of other athletes experienced GERD symptoms at least twice a week, a significant difference.

“It made a lot of sense to us,” Dr. Kaneshiro said. But “we didn’t expect it to be only short boarders.”  Surfers who use a short board were significantly more likely to experience GERD than are nonsurfers, he said. A slight increase among  long boarders was not significantly different.

Even when these surfers find out about the link to their symptoms, “they are still going to surf,” Dr. Kaneshiro predicted. Physicians can recommend surfers in their practice avoid meals beforehand and consider use of anti-GERD medications. 

—Damian McNamara



Filed under Gastroenterology, Internal Medicine

8 responses to “Surfing is a risk factor for GERD

  1. I’ve never heard that too much abdominal pressure could do this to surfers! Thanks for the info.

  2. meddyblogger

    You’re welcome. Glad you found it interesting.

    Damian McNamara

  3. Griffster

    Thanks for the info. I have been suffering from a hiatial hernia for the last few years and suffer with GERD nearly eveytime I surf. I ride long and shortboards but have not noticed it being significantly worse when riding a shortboard. However most shortboards to arch their backs to a greater degree when paddling… could this be a possible link?

    I try not to eat heavily before surfing but still suffer symptoms which are exacerbated with heavy breathing after duck-dives and breath holding.

    My main problem is that i cannot get a GP to take the issue seriously and they only advise a lifestyle change i.e to give up surfing. This is not an option, so i struggle to manage the symptoms. I take between 20mg – 40mg Omeprazole on a daily basis, abd while this helps to reduce some of the symptoms of GERD it still affects me quite badly.

    Does anyone have any helpful advice in managing this frustrating and discomforting condition?

  4. As a surfing dentist who lives in a surfing community, Carlsbad, Ca., I have for years seen the effects of surfing induced gerd on the surfing population. Carlsbad has produced many surfing professionals and their high school surf team consistantly places in the top of all scholastic surf competitions. Having worked in the surfing industry in my previous life my patient population is hgeavily weighted with surfers. They develop a specific pattern of acid erosion that I have seen to be destructive to their teeth. I also have seen a significant difference in short boarders vs long boarders. I have addressed this with my classmate from 1980 UCLA Dental School class who is now head of the restorative department at UCLA. I will be forwarding your study to him. Your study confirms what I have been addressing with my patients for years and have had no research to back up my assertion. Thanks for the help.
    Dr Geoffrey Bell DDS

    PS. For your edification the best protective treatment for you teeth I have found is MI paste applied every night before sleep.

  5. Tim

    Where would I find the published study?

  6. Hi Tim:

    Here is a link to the abstract of the study. It was published in 209, and includes an e-mail address for the principal author if you want to find out more. But feel free to leave any additional questions/comments here if you want.

    –Damian McNamara

  7. Patrick Vanderpol

    When you eat, food passes from the throat to the stomach through the esophagus (also called the food pipe or swallowing tube). Once food is in the stomach, a ring of muscle fibers prevents food from moving backward into the esophagus. These muscle fibers are called the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES.If this sphincter muscle doesn’t close well, food, liquid, and stomach acid can leak back into the esophagus. This is called reflux or gastroesophageal reflux. Reflux may cause symptoms, or it can even damage the esophagus.-

    Most current piece of writing coming from our very own web site

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