A risk factor makes the chances of getting a disease or condition higher. You can have GERD with or without any of those listed below. But the more risks you have, the higher the chances of GERD.

Talk to your doctor about the steps you need to take to lower your risk.

The most common is a lower esophageal sphincter (LES) that doesn’t work as it should. The LES may:

  • Not stay closed when it’s supposed to
  • Relax at the wrong time

Your chances of having LES problems are higher if you:

  • Take certain medicines such as those used for asthma, high blood pressure, or depression.
  • Have a hiatal hernia —The top part of the stomach presses up into the chest. This makes the pressure in the stomach higher.
  • Are pregnant—Places higher amounts of pressure on the stomach. After the baby is born, the problems tend to stop.
  • Are overweight —This adds more pressure on the stomach.
  • Smoke—Weakens the LES.
  • Have conditions that weaken esophageal muscles such as scleroderma.
  • Have nervous system problems.
  • Have a nasogastric tube—The tube passes through the LES.
  • Had surgery on or an injury to the nerve that controls the LES—not as common.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). American Gastroenterological Association website. Available at: https://aga-cms-assets.s3.amazonaws.com/2018214195040---All_GERD_2017.pdf. Updated July 2017. Accessed August 20, 2018.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116914/Gastroesophageal-reflux-disease-GERD. Updated September 14, 2017. Accessed August 20, 2018.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Merck Manual Professional Version. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gastrointestinal-disorders/esophageal-and-swallowing-disorders/gastroesophageal-reflux-disease-gerd. Updated April 2018. Accessed August 20, 2018.

Symptoms & causes of GER & GERD. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/acid-reflux-ger-gerd-adults/symptoms-causes. Updated November 2014. Accessed August 20, 2018.

9/30/2008 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116914/Gastroesophageal-reflux-disease-GERD. Jacobson BC, Moy B, Colditz GA, Fuchs CS. Postmenopausal hormone use and symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux. Arch Intern Med. 2008;168(16):1798-1804.

4/25/2014 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttp://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116914/Gastroesophageal-reflux-disease-GERD: Shimamoto T, Yamamichi N. No association of coffee consumption with gastric ulcer, duodenal ulcer, reflux esophagitis, and non-erosive reflux disease: A cross-sectional study of 8,013 healthy subjects in Japan. PLoS One. 2013;8(6):e65996.

Last reviewed May 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Daus Mahnke, MD