A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.
It is possible to develop GERD with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing GERD. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your healthcare provider what you can do to reduce your risk.
GERD or heartburn can occur in men, women, and children of all ages, including infants.
Risk factors include:
Specific Lifestyle Factors
The following habits may increase the risk of GERD:
- Exercising or strenuous activity immediately after eating
- Lying down, bending over, or straining after eating
Foods and Beverages
The following foods and beverages may increase the risk of developing GERD:
- Alcohol use, especially in excess
- Caffeine drinks such as coffee or carbonated soft drinks
- Citrus fruits
- Fried foods
- Foods made with tomatoes, such as pizza, chili, or spaghetti sauce
- Spicy foods
The following medical conditions may increase the risk of developing GERD:
- Hiatal hernia
- Prior surgery, vagotomy
- Certain nervous system disorders
- In-dwelling nasogastric tube
Medications and Supplements
The use of certain medications and supplements may increase the risk of GERD. These medications include:
- Calcium channel blockers
- Theophylline, bronchial inhalers, and other asthma medications
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what. Updated April 29, 2013. Accessed April 30, 2013.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals. Available at:
http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gastrointestinal_disorders/esophageal_and_swallowing_disorders/gastroesophageal_reflux_disease_gerd.html. Updated May 2012. Accessed April 30, 2013.
Heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux (GER), and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). National
Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
website. Available at:
http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/gerd/. Updated April 30, 2012. Accessed April 30, 2013.
Katz PO, Gerson LB, Vela MF. Guidelines for the diagnosis and management of gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Am J Gastroenterol. 2013;108(3):302-328.
Understanding heartburn and reflux disease. American Gastroenterological Association website. Available at:
http://www.gastro.org/patient-center/digestive-conditions/heartburn-gerd. Published April 25, 2010. Accessed April 30, 2010.
9/30/2008 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php: Jacobson BC, Moy B, Colditz GA, Fuchs CS. Postmenopausal hormone use and symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux.
Arch Intern Med. 2008;168:1798-1804.
Last reviewed April 2013 by Daus Mahnke, MD; Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © EBSCO Publishing. All rights reserved.