Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a common chronic condition that causes acid reflux or heartburn. Genetics can play a role in the development of the disease, affecting body processes that control inflammation, acid secretion, and esophageal function.
GERD is a long-term medical condition that can result in heartburn and regurgitation. Around 20% of the population in the United States has GERD, and it is more common in people who are elderly, have obesity, or are pregnant.
The American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) explains that GERD occurs when gastric acid and bile from the stomach refluxes into the esophagus. Usually, a valve called the
In this article, we will look at genetic factors that may play a role in GERD occurring. We will also discuss risk factors, treatment options, and prevention strategies for GERD.
The review found that
For example, the FOXF1 gene may play a role in the development of the gastrointestinal smooth muscle and may help regulate the LES.
The review also explains that pro-inflammatory cytokine genes interleukin-1beta and IL-1RN can reduce acid and protect against GERD developing in the presence of Helicobacter pylori infection. However, altered expression of the following genes involved in inflammation, DNA repair, and growth factor processes can increase the risk of GERD:
- glutathione-S-transferases (especially GSTP1*b)
According to a
The ACG advises that treatments for GERD aim to eliminate symptoms, heal the irritation in the esophagus, and prevent long-term complications. They note that doctors may prescribe H2 receptor antagonists and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) to reduce the amount of acid the stomach produces. However, these medicines are treatments and not cures.
People can also buy antacids over the counter. However, these may only treat mild GERD symptoms, and a person should talk with their doctor to see if they are suitable. In addition, a doctor may recommend dietary and lifestyle changes.
If someone’s symptoms do not improve, a doctor may recommend surgery. Fundoplication is the
To manage symptoms and prevent GERD from occurring, a doctor may recommend the following strategies.
A doctor may advise someone with GERD to avoid the
- fatty and fried foods
- caffeinated drinks
- citrus fruits and juice
- tomatoes and tomato juice
- alcoholic drinks
- spicy foods
The following lifestyle changes may also help someone with GERD.
- losing weight if overweight
- stopping smoking, if they smoke
- avoiding tight clothing
- limiting or avoiding alcohol
- raising the head of their mattress 6–10 inches using a foam wedge
- avoiding laying down or going to bed for at least 2 hours after eating
Research indicates that genetic factors may play a major role in the development of GERD and related conditions. Variations in genes that control inflammation, DNA repair, and growth factors may be involved, as well as genes that contribute to the function of the lower esophageal sphincter.
Obesity and overweight may develop due to some gene variations associated with metabolic syndrome. This may cause abdominal pressure and reduce the ability of the esophageal sphincter to stop acid reflux. People can discuss treatment options with their doctor, including dietary and lifestyle changes, medications, or surgery.