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What Causes GERD?

Learn Which Risk Factors You Can Control
  -- By Liza Barnes, Health Educator
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, causes painful symptoms like heartburn and acid regurgitation. Although there are many theories on the causes of GERD, experts aren't sure exactly what causes it. There are two main categories of risks that can contribute to GERD—those that you can't change, and those that you can.

Uncontrollable Risk Factors
These variables are out of your control. Although you can't do anything to change them, it's important to know that these conditions can lead to GERD. Although these risk factors are outside of your control, there are many lifestyle habits that you CAN change to help prevent symptoms of GERD. <pagebreak>

Controllable Risk Factors
These are behaviors and factors that you can modify to lower your risk of suffering from GERD. Although GERD can sometimes be just a nuisance, often it can cause serious complications if left unchecked. Inflammation of the esophagus due to the damage caused by stomach acid can lead to bleeding, ulcers, and scarring. In some instances, the damage to the esophagus can be so severe that it leads to cancer. The seriousness of these complications warrants a change in lifestyle to prevent their occurrence.

Because GERD is so common, there are also a host of treatment options if lifestyle changes alone don't help. Work closely with your doctor to create a plan that works for you.