GERD PROBLEMS : You must be wondering that what can make your digestive system malfunction. There are some diseases which are associated with GERD. They can be either cause of GERD or any other medical condition or disease which makes the symptoms associated with GERD worse. However, in some cases, the disease is associated with GERD but it is not clear at all which is the driver-does the other disease cause GERD or does GERD cause the other disease.  

Here are some of the key causes of or contributors to GERD: – 

  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Asthma
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Connective tissue disorder such as scleroderma
  • Genetic factors
  • Medications
  • Salivary problems
  • Slow stomach, due to diabetes, medications, or other factors
  • Excessive athletic activity
  • Pregnancy
  • Thyroid disease
  • Aging
  • Obesity
  • Weakened system
  • Wearing extremely tight clothing
  • Confinement to bed, such as experienced by nursing home patients. 
  • Other diseases

Diabetes Mellitus 

Some diseases specifically have an association with GERD; for example, according to a 1997 issue of diabetes Forecast, as many as 75 percents of those with diabetes have problems with esophageal mobility or the movement of the food along the esophagus. Diabetes also causes delayed gastric emptying – a double whammy. This happens largely because of the nerve damage resulting from diabetes. Most people have no symptoms at first, and then the problem can progress to GERD. 

Asthma –  

In many conditions, asthma and GERD may coexist in the same patient. Some patients may disagree on whether asthma causes GERD or results from GERD; however, we do know that at least half of all patients with asthma suffer from GERD. One possible cause could be the medication that asthmatics take, which can slow down the muscles of the esophagus and stomach. Another possible cause could be the extreme coughing and wheezing that asthmatics frequently suffer, which place a burden on the upper gastrointestinal system. 

It is also possible that GERD causes asthma. This may happen in one of two ways. First, the aspiration of small amounts of acid into the lung causes spasm of the air passage. Second, the acid causes bronchospasm by stimulating esophago-bronchial reflexes.

Hiatal Hernia –

A hiatal hernia is a medical problem in which part of the stomach protrudes through the diaphragm into the chest and stays there. This further causes pain and bleeding to make GERD much worse. The hiatal hernia then weakens the mechanism that is meant to prevent acid reflux from the esophagus. According to some studies which have demonstrated that hiatal hernia itself causes retention of stomach acid and thus promotes GERD. 

Connective tissue disorders such as Scleroderma – 

Scleroderma and other connective tissue diseases affect the nerves and muscles of the esophagus. As a result, the lower esophageal sphincter becomes very lax and lethargic, resulting in increased acid reflux. Also, the walls of the esophagus and their contractions become weak and ineffective. Thus, any food or acid that refluxes up is not promptly milked back down into the stomach. 

Genetic Factors 

With many chronic ailments, there is always an underlying genetic predisposition, and there are indicators that GERD may run in families. According to one study those individuals who experienced reflux symptoms at least weekly and then compared their histories with other GERD sufferers. 

The predominant factors the researchers found that related to GERD were, in this order: –

  • Obesity
  • Another family member with heartburn or diseases of the stomach or esophagus. 
  • A history of smoking
  • Alcohol consumption of seven or more drinks per week 

Obesity, alcoholism and other forms of addiction have also been proven in the past to have a genetic component to them. 

Salivary problems 

In some cases, a person has trouble creating sufficient saliva, a condition known as “xerostomia.” When saliva is insufficient, not only is there less neutralization of acid but also food goes down the esophagus very slowly, and consequently, the esophagus is not protected adequately. Diminished saliva often stems from an underlying illness, such as Sicca syndrome. But there are other causes; for example, some medications may greatly reduce saliva. Radiation treatments for cancer patients will also reduce the volume of saliva. Sometimes, elderly people have problems producing sufficient quantities of saliva.  

It is also true that some patients with GERD have an excessive amount of saliva. Too much saliva doesn’t rule out GERD. 

Slow Stomach  

Some conditions can cause the stomach to move food out at a much slower rate. Due to this delayed functioning, the stomach can become overloaded and food backs up (refluxes) into the esophagus. Examples of diseases or conditions that delay stomach emptying are diabetes, scleroderma, anorexia nervosa, nervous system disorders which includes stroke, head injury, brain tumor, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s inadequate thyroid (hypothyroidism), pregnancy and kidney failure. 

 Also, various operations, on the stomach and duodenum, ulcer and gastric bypass surgery, may delay gastric emptying.

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