• Risk Factors for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)/Heartburn

    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:
    The following habits can increase the risk of heartburn or GERD:
    • Obesity
    • Exercising immediately after eating (especially jogging or strenuous activity)
    • Smoking
    • Lying down soon after meals
    • Bending over or straining, especially soon after meals
    • Alcohol (especially excess) use
    • Eating chocolate
    • Drinking carbonated beverages, caffeinated beverages, and decaffeinated coffee
    • Eating spicy foods or acidic foods like citrus or tomatoes
    The following medical conditions may increase the risk of developing GERD:
    The use of certain medications and supplements can increase the risk of GERD. These medications include:
    • Aspirin and other NSAIDs (may irritate the stomach, which contributes to GERD)
    • Anticholinergics
    • Calcium channel blockers
    • Theophylline, bronchial inhalers, and other asthma medications
    • Quinidine
    • Tetracycline
    • Potassium and iron supplements
    • Nitrates
    • Sildenafil (Viagra)
    • Alpha-adrenergic agents
    • Meperidine (Demerol)
    • Sedatives such as diazepam (Valium)
    • Hormone replacement therapy


    American Gastroenterological Association website. Available at: http://www.gastro.org/ . Accessed March 6, 2006.

    The Merck Manual of Medical Information . 17th edition. Simon and Schuster, Inc.; 2000.

    National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niddk.nih.gov/ . Accessed March 7, 2006.

    The Society of Thoracic Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.ctsnet.org/ . Accessed March 7, 2006.

    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.

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