Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a condition that many Americans live with every day.
That burning in your chest and bitter taste of stomach acid regurgitated back into your mouth can be a rather unpleasant end to an otherwise delightful dinner.
If you want to avoid it, or discover what might be causing its symptoms, here are 6 conditions that may increase your risk of developing GERD.
A Malfunctioning LES
The Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) is the tiny valve between the stomach and the esophagus. The esophagus carries food from our mouth to the stomach. If this valve is not functioning properly and does not close completely, it can allow the stomach contents back up into the mouth. This constant process can damage the tissue in the esophagus and the person’s teeth.
This can happen if the LES becomes weak. It can also be due to certain medications or the food and drinks an individual consumes.
When a person is overweight, there is extra pressure on their abdomen that often causes the symptoms of GERD to be even worse. Women who are pregnant suffer from this same issue. In addition, pregnancy increases the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which both tend to weaken or relax the LES.
Scleroderma is an autoimmune disorder that affects connective tissues in the body like the esophagus. It causes affected areas to become hard or fibrous, and in the case of GERD it can cause esophageal dysfunction.
This is a condition in which there is delayed stomach emptying, and it is often found in people with Type 1 Diabetes. When the stomach does not empty properly and digest the acid, it can cause extra pressure in the stomach resulting in an increased risk of developing GERD.
COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease can increase your risk of developing GERD. In addition, when you have GERD, it makes your COPD symptoms even worse.
A hiatal hernia causes a bulge at the top of the stomach into the diaphragm. This lowers the pressure on the LES causing reflux.
Other Contributing Factors
Scientists believe that genetics plays a part in your risk of developing GERD. Lifestyle choices like smoking plus the foods you eat and drink all contribute to your risk for GERD. Many prescription medications can cause or make the symptoms worse.