Is GERD genetic?

Thanks, Aunt Betty.

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, you’re probably looking forward to Grandma’s buttery mashed potatoes doused with gravy and Aunt Betty’s spicy green bean casserole. But afterward, when you’re overcome by a severe case of acid reflux, you might also be able to blame your digestive health problems and GERD on Grandma or Aunt Betty (in other words, genetics may play a role).

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) causes stomach acids to return to the esophagus, resulting in heartburn and other unpleasant symptoms, like regurgitation.

There is a difference between experiencing heartburn every now and then and suffering from the persistent condition known as GERD. Eating acidic foods can cause temporary heartburn. But GERD is caused by structural problems within the esophagus itself, such as abnormal nerve or muscle function in the stomach, abnormalities in the esophagus or a hiatal hernia (to name a few).

These factors may be the result of genetics. An estimated 30 to 40 percent of people who suffer from acid reflux can blame family genes. GERD can be hereditary when muscular or structural problems in the stomach or esophagus are inherited.

If GERD runs in your family line, you may also be more susceptible to Barrett’s esophagus, which is a precancerous condition caused by severe GERD.

Crohn’s disease, diabetes, respiratory diseases (like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), lymphomas (as well as other types of cancer), and gastrointestinal disorders (such as peptic ulcers) can also result in digestive health problems and GERD. Genetics can also play a role in your risk of developing these conditions.

Is GERD genetic? Can it be prevented?

Uncomfortable symptoms of GERD such as reflux and heartburn can sometimes be prevented. If you’re prone to these symptoms, try altering your diet, eating smaller amounts of food at one time and not lying down after eating. Pregnancy and obesity can also increase your risk of experiencing heartburn.

To understand if genetics plays a role in your GERD symptoms, talk to your doctor. An evaluation of your family health history may help determine if your symptoms are inherited, or if there are other factors creating the unpleasant symptoms.

Find a physician who can help treat your GERD.

The content of this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult with your physician or other health care provider regarding any medical conditions or decisions about medical care.