Causes of GERD

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) occurs when juices and acid of the stomach reflux (or back up) into the esophagus, often leading the individual to complain of heartburn symptoms. These stomach juices can irritate the esophagus causing its victim to experience warmth, burning and pain in the breastbone area. Let’s take a look at some of the most common causes of GERD.

Diet – Certain foods, such as onions, chocolate, coffee, peppermint, high-fat foods and high-sugar foods, relax the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) valve, causing it to not close as tightly as it should. The result is an increased likelihood of reflux and heartburn symptoms. Tobacco, alcohol and some medications may also relax the LES valve.

Weak LES Valve - Although this is a rare cause of mild Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), people who have severe GERD have a weak LES valve in approximately 25 percent of the cases.

Hiatal Hernia - GERD is commonly found in people who have a hiatal hernia, which is a condition in which a portion of the stomach protrudes, through an opening in the diaphragm, upward into the chest.

Overeating - An overfull stomach leads to an increased likelihood that the LES valve will relax, allowing stomach juices to reflux back up into the esophagus.

Slow-Moving Digestion - Stomach contents are more likely to be refluxed up to the esophagus if food stays in the stomach too long before going to the small intestine. This condition is called delayed gastric emptying.

Hormonal changes - Increased abdominal pressure along with hormonal pressure during pregnancy, increases the chance of developing Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).

If you are experiencing heartburn and think you may have Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), see your Atlanta, GA physician.

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