GERD Home > Causes of GERD

While the exact causes of GERD are still unknown, several risk factors can work to increase your chances of developing it. These risk factors can include hiatal hernia, pregnancy, and being under stress. Certain foods, such as tomato products, spicy foods, and citrus foods, while not causes of GERD, may make symptoms worse.

Causes of GERD: An Introduction

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD for short, is a condition where stomach acid refluxes back into the esophagus, causing damage to it. The cause or causes of GERD are not known; however, there are a number of factors that can that can increase your risk of developing it. These factors are known as GERD risk factors. These same risk factors can also make your GERD symptoms worse.
 

Causes of GERD: Know the Risk Factors

While not causes of GERD, risk factors for GERD can increase a person's chances of developing the condition. Just because you have these GERD risk factors, however, does not guarantee that you will have GERD. It just makes it more likely. Common GERD risk factors include:
 
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Pregnancy
  • Use of tobacco products
  • Dietary factors
  • Certain medications
  • Use of alcohol
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Stress.
     
Causes of GERD: Hiatal Hernia
Your esophagus passes through an opening in your diaphragm called the hiatus, which helps close off the lower esophageal sphincter. A hiatal hernia happens when a small part of your stomach and the sphincter poke up through the hiatus into your chest. This can cause the sphincter to become weak and less able to block acid reflux.
 
While hiatal hernias can happen in people of all ages, they are more common in people over the age of 50. In addition, while most people who have hiatal hernias don't have any problems, a hiatal hernia can make it more likely that you'll get heartburn and possibly develop GERD.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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