Causes of Gerd


What Causes GERD?

There are two root causes of GERD: those that are chemical in nature and those that stem from anatomical dysfunction. Chemical causes can range from inability of the esophagus to tolerate refluxed materials from the stomach to tissue sensitivities due to natural low acid intolerance, medication use, or ingested substances such as alcohol and tobacco. However, for the majority of sufferers GERD stems from anatomical changes.

When a person with normal, healthy anatomy swallows, the valve between the esophagus and the stomach (gastroesophageal valve) opens in order to allow food to pass. This gastroesophageal valve then closes to prevent stomach contents from backwashing or refluxing back up into the esophagus. The normal valve is known as the antireflux barrier and is considered the most important factor in preventing GERD.

For people with GERD, this valve becomes dysfunctional and does not close appropriately, allowing abnormal amounts of both acidic and non-acidic fluids to backwash into the esophagus.

What Causes the Gastroesophageal Valve to Become Dysfunctional?

Any one of these factors, or combination of these factors, can result in disruption of the gastroesophageal valve and abnormal exposure to acid reflux.

  • Genetic: Anatomy varies from person to person; some people naturally have less competent valves than others.
  • Injury to Upper Chest: Often the result of a sports-related injury or a traumatic accident, these incidents can cause the valve to lose its shape.
  • Obesity/Diet: Excess weight can cause distortion of normal anatomy.
  • Age: As people age, musculature can lose its integrity and affect gastroesophageal anatomy.

If you suffer any symptoms of reflux more than twice a week, you may have chronic acid reflux. Take the GERD-HRQL survey and bring the results to your doctor for a GERD evaluation.