There are a lot of commercials about drugs to treat GERD. While treating it is necessary, knowing you might develop it is important. Some risk factors can be reduced.
What is GERD? This is a condition in which the sphincter muscle between the stomach and esophagus doesn’t close all of the way. That lets stomach acid into the esophagus. This actually burns the area, and can burn all the way up to the throat. Over time, this burned area can become like the lining of the stomach, which isn’t a good thing. It can also cause cancer.
Overweight: While studies show a clear link between a high BMI and GERD, they are unsure what the link is. It could be the type of food being eaten, it could be a hernia or it could be because of pressure on the stomach. This study also showed a connection with cancer.
Smoking: The link between smoking and GERD is clear. There are several things smoking does that make it more likely to occur. It reduces saliva, relaxes the sphincter muscle, increases stomach acid, interferes with the muscles in that area and damages the esophagus. Ex-smokers have found that their GERD has decreased.
Pregnancy: This is something I am very familiar with, having two daughters. Besides studies, the little darlings are quite good at kicking the stomach and the bladder. Believe me, things come flying out when that happens. Besides that issue, the uterus pushes on the stomach as the baby grows and hormones make it harder for the muscles to do their jobs. Most women don’t have lasting harm because of this problem.
Asthma: Does asthma cause GERD or vice versa? That’s not known at the moment. What is known is that 70% of asthma patients have GERD. Having fought with both, my vote is that asthma causes GERD because I’d had asthma for many years before my first bout of GERD.
Other risk factors: Family history is a strong indicator of who is going to have this problem. If your parents or grandparents had it, you will probably develop it. That’s as important to know as the risk factors you can mitigate.
Solutions: There are medications that can lower the risk of this illness. Some are over the counter and others are prescription. If you have heartburn or experience stomach acid that climbs up your throat, see your doctor. Stopping GERD can stop the damage that could lead to cancer.