Gastro esophageal reflux disease is a disorder that results from stomach acid moving backward from the stomach into the esophagus. GERD usually happens because the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) — the muscular valve where the esophagus joins the stomach — opens at the wrong time or does not close properly.
Causes for Reflux Disease -GERD
No one knows the exact cause of gastro esophageal reflux. The following are several contributing factors that weaken or relax the lower esophageal sphincter, making reflux worse:
- Lifestyle – Use of alcohol or cigarettes, obesity, poor posture (slouching)
- Medications – Calcium channel blockers, theophylline , nitrates, antihistamines and pain killers
- Diet – Fatty and fried foods, chocolate, garlic and onions, drinks with caffeine, acid foods such as citrus fruits and tomatoes, spicy foods, mint flavorings
- Eating habits – Eating large meals, eating just before bedtime
- Other medical conditions – Hiatus hernia, pregnancy, diabetes, rapid weight gain
Hiatus hernia is a condition when the upper part of the stomach protrudes up above the diaphragm (the strong muscle that separates the organs of the chest from those of the abdomen).
- Normally, the diaphragm acts as an additional barrier, helping the lower esophageal sphincter keep acid from backing up into the esophagus.
- A hiatus hernia makes it easier for the acid to back up.
- Hiatus hernia can be caused by persistent coughing, vomiting, straining, or sudden physical exertion. Obesity and pregnancy can make the condition worse.
- Hiatus hernia is very common in people older than 50 years.
- Hiatus hernia usually requires no treatment. In rare cases when the hernia becomes twisted or is making GERD worse, surgery may be required.