What Causes GERD
Once a patient is diagnosed with GERD one of the first questions they ask is “what causes GERD”. There are a couple of major factors in the causes of GERD; one of which being a damaged lower esophageal sphincter (LES), and another being overeating. Overeating can damage the LES.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease; referred to as GERD, is defined as a condition caused by the reflux of stomach contents into the esophagus, causing troublesome symptoms and complications. GERD is often referred to as acid reflux. Damage to the LES is what causes GERD.
What causes GERD is a malfunction of a muscular structure called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) located at the end of the swallowing tube (esophagus) at the point where it joins the stomach. Under normal circumstances, the LES functions as a valve allowing food to pass readily into the stomach while not allowing stomach contents to back up or “reflux” upward into the esophagus. When the function of the LES is compromised, it loses its valve function and stomach contents can move the wrong direction up into the esophagus. The lining of the esophagus is sensitive and not meant to withstand exposure stomach to juices, including acid. It is easily irritated causing many symptoms, the most common of which is heartburn.
Another answer as to what causes GERD is overeating. Overeating can be a major factor that causes the LES to become damaged. Filling up, or stretching of the stomach allows the LES to be exposed to stomach contents, including acid, which damages the LES. The reason the term “acid” reflux is used is that when reflux occurs, acid is the component of the stomach juice that causes most of the irritation of the esophagus. There are many other chemicals contained in the refluxing stomach contents, but it is the acid that causes most of the symptoms.
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