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GERD Causes

GERD causes are not always apparent, though generally the condition stems from a problem with a muscle situated at the bottom of your esophagus where it meets the stomach. This muscle is the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES may be considered like a gate - it opens to let food into your stomach, and it closes to prevent any acid washing back up into your esophagus.

For people with GERD the LES has become weakened, allowing stomach acid to pass back into the esophagus, which is how GERD causes the symptoms of heartburn.

Other GERD causes may include:

  • an increased pressure on your stomach
  • your stomach takes longer than normal to dispose of stomach acid.

There are a number of risk factors which are known to increase your likelihood of developing GERD. These are:

  • Being overweight.
  • A diet that is too high in fatty foods - the stomach takes longer to dispose of stomach acids after digesting a fatty meal.
  • Using tobacco, alcohol, coffee, or chocolate - it has been suggested that these four substances can relax the LES.
  • Medications, such as calcium-channel blockers, benzodiazepines, and anticholinergics, are also known to relax the lower esophageal sphincter.
  • Pregnancy- the changes in hormone levels that occur during pregnancy can weaken the LES, and it can also increase the pressure on your stomach.
  • Hiatal hernia - hiatal hernia is where part of your stomach pushes up through your diaphragm (a muscle that is used for breathing.)
  • Stress.

We can see then that GERD causes may seem varied but the underlying physical condition is a mechanical problem with the LES.

GERD Causes - References

By Mortin - Copyright 2010
Last modification 05/02/2010