How do other illnesses affect GERD and heartburn?

Obesity is one of the most common risks for GERD. The rare disease, scleroderma, also increases the risk due to abnormal esophageal motility.

Some illnesses can increase your risk of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and heartburn. For example, a common condition known as a hiatal hernia can lead to heartburn and GERD. In a person with a hiatal hernia, part of the stomach pushes through an opening in the diaphragm, which is a muscle between the stomach and the chest. Along with the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the diaphragm usually keeps stomach acid and other stomach contents from coming back up into the esophagus. When the hiatal hernia interferes with the normal functioning of the diaphragm, heartburn and GERD can occur. Diabetes, asthma, connective tissue disorders, and a rare digestive disorder known as Zollinger-Ellison syndrome can also increase your risk of heartburn and GERD.

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