GERD results when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) muscle becomes weakened. The LES sits at the juncture between the esophagus and the stomach and prevents food and stomach liquids from flowing back up into the esophagus.
Weakening of the LES can be caused by the following factors and conditions:
: When the stomach and the LES protrude into the chest through the opening in the diaphragm normally occupied by the esophagus
Surgical destruction of the LES
Neurologic disorders or complications (from diabetes, for example) affecting the LES
: A disorder that affects esophageal motility
Congenital defects of the gastrointestinal or respiratory tracts
Certain medications, such as:
Calcium channel blockers
Other factors that contribute to LES weakening include the following:
Fatty foods, especially chocolate and fried foods
Once the LES is weakened, other factors, such as an increase in pressure in the abdomen relative to the chest, can increase the risk of reflux. See
for further details.
American Gastroenterological Association website. Available at:
. 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:
. Accessed March 7, 2006.
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