What Causes Reflux (GERD)?
With a normal, healthy person, after swallowing, a valve between the esophagus and the stomach opens to allow food to pass, then it closes to prevent stomach fluids from backwashing, or "refluxing," back up into the esophagus.
Fully functional valve closes to prevent reflux of stomach acid into the esophagus.
For people with GERD, this valve has become dysfunctional and cannot close, allowing stomach fluids, both acid and non-acid, to backwash up into the esophagus. Non-acid reflux can be as harmful to the esophagus as acid reflux and can cause similar symptoms.
Dysfunctional valve is unable to close to prevent stomach acid from refluxing into the esophagus.
What Causes the Valve to Become Dysfunctional?
- Congenital: Though pediatric GERD is not uncommon, most children either outgrow it or are treated effectively for it as infants.
- Injury to Upper Chest:. Typically the result of a sports-related injury (e.g., high school football injury) or a traumatic accident (e.g., seat-belt injury resulting from car accident). The injury causes the valve to "stretch" out of shape.
- Obesity/Diet: Weight can be a significant contributing factor.
- Age: As people age, their musculature can lose its integrity.
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