Causes of GERD

Despite the prevalence of the disease, the root causes of GERD are not fully understood. In other words, we don’t yet know why the LES fails in some people, but doesn’t in others. Despite this ambiguity however, we do know that there are various conditions and lifestyles that can increase the risk of developing GERD. Some of these can be managed through lifestyle changes and others require greater intervention:

  • Hiatal hernia. This is a hernia that forms in when the stomach pushes up through the hiatus of the diaphragm and into the chest cavity. While the link between hiatal hernia and GERD has not been fully explored, there is definitely a link of some sort. If the hiatal hernia is strangulated (blood flow to the protruding stomach is restricted) surgery is indicated
  • Dietary choices may also affect GERD. Spicy and acidic foods can increase the chance of reflux along with caffeinated drinks, dairy and sweets. Learn more about the foods to avoid
  • Pressure on the abdomen from coughing, obesity and pregnancy
  • Smoking can cause GERD. It is important to note that even inhaling second hand smoke can be detrimental
  • Various medications have side-effects that can include acid reflux. Check with your doctor before starting a new medication

The causes of GERD are varied and your physician will begin with a complete medical history. Upon understanding lifestyle choices and conditions you may have, the appropriate course of treatment can be started. You can also learn more about the signs and symptoms of GERD. For severe GERD or GERD that doesn’t respond to preliminary treatment, reflux surgery may be an appropriate solution.