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 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

Medical Conditions

The following medical conditions may increase the risk of developing GERD:

  • Peptic ulcer
  • Prior surgery for heartburn, including gastric reflux surgery and vagotomy
  • Asthma or other respiratory problems
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Scoliosis
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Certain nervous system disorders
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Food allergies
  • In-dwelling nasogastric tube
  • Chest trauma
  • Certain congenital problems such as:

Medications and Supplements

The use of certain medications and supplements can increase the risk of GERD. These medications include: