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What causes gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)?

Nicotine products—cigars, cigarettes or gum to help stop smoking—cause the valve at the top of the stomach to relax, allowing stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus. Smoking also can irritate an esophagus already tender from the backflow of stomach acid.

Risk factors for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) include:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Smoking
  • Pregnancy
  • Having a hiatal hernia where the stomach moves up above the diaphragm
  • Diabetes
  • Excess alcohol intake
  • Asthma

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.