Gastroesophageal reflux disease is often caused by a stomach abnormality called a hiatal hernia, reports WebMD. If this abnormality is not the cause of GERD, other factors such as smoking, eating spicy foods, or taking certain medications may be causing the acid reflux.
Hiatal hernias occur when the upper region of the stomach and lower esophageal sphincter moves above the diaphragm, reports WebMD. The diaphragm helps prevent the movement of acid into the esophagus, but since the stomach has moved above the diaphragm, acid easily spills out. This condition may be caused by other factors, however. Reclining after a meal or eating an extremely large meal can contribute to the symptoms of GERD. Likewise, obese or overweight individuals are at a higher risk of developing GERD.
Alcohol, carbonated drinks and coffee may contribute to heartburn, and acidic or spicy foods add to the stomach's acidity, adds WebMD. Pregnant women are at a higher risk of developing acid reflux. Certain medications, including over-the-counter painkillers and blood pressure medications may be a root cause of GERD. Common over-the-counter treatments for GERD are antacids, such as Milk of Magnesia and Alka Seltzer, and acid reducers, such as Pepcid AC. Lifestyle changes such as losing weight, quitting smoking, and eating smaller, more frequent meals can have significant effects against GERD. In serious cases, surgical intervention may be considered to treat GERD.