Signs of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are limited, therefore, follow up of treatment are mainly based on patients’ symptoms. The aims of study were: 1) to compare the prevalence of white tongue (WT) between individuals with GERD and control group, 2) to evaluate the correlation between WT extension and severity of symptoms in GERD.
Materials and methods
This case-control study consisted of 100 consecutive individuals with GERD who were referred to the gastroenterology clinic of a referral hospital during 2019-2020. The diagnosis of GERD was made by a gastroenterologist if heart burn or regurgitation existed. The same number of healthy accompanies of patients without GERD participated as the control group. A single examiner defined WT if whitish-gray discoloration of tongue surface existed in two separate sessions [Kappa = 0.93; p < 0.01]. WT extension was estimated based on the approximate white discoloration of the tongue surface.
All participants with GERD showed white tongue in the first observation and 98% in the second observation, while only 5% of the individuals in the control group revealed WT in both observations (p < 0.001). There was a positive correlation between the WT extension and GERD symptom severity (r: 0.44; p < 0.001).
It seems that WT might be a reliable sign of GERD. Considering the association between GERD symptoms severity and the extent of WT in this observation, further studies may assess the utility of WT extension as a reasonable objective in monitoring treatment response.