Pregnancy and Tobacco as GERD Risk Factors
Causes of GERD: Pregnancy
Many women develop GERD, or have their symptoms become worse, during pregnancy. Up to half of all pregnant women experience heartburn at some point during their pregnancy, and up to 1 out of 4 suffers from heartburn every day.
Some doctors believe that this happens because the growing baby puts pressure on the stomach and pushes it up against the diaphragm. Such an increase in pressure on the stomach can cause the lower esophageal sphincter to open, even when it really shouldn't. This allows acid reflux to occur.
Also, normal hormonal changes that happen during pregnancy can weaken the sphincter, making it even more likely to open up when it shouldn't. Both the increased pressure on the stomach and a weaker sphincter can make it easier for acid reflux to happen during pregnancy.
Causes of GERD: Tobacco Products
The use of tobacco products, such as cigarettes, cigars, snuff, chewing tobacco, and pipe tobacco, can increase the likelihood of developing GERD, or make your symptoms of GERD even worse. This is because using tobacco can weaken the lower esophageal sphincter, as well as increase the amount of stomach acid you produce.
Tobacco products can also decrease the amount of saliva you make. As we mentioned earlier, saliva normally acts to protect the esophagus from the effects of stomach juices.
People who smoke are also more likely to cough, which can put pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter, causing it to open when it shouldn't.
All of these effects of tobacco use make it more likely for the esophagus to be irritated and damaged by acid reflux.