Factors that increase your risk of developing symptoms of include:
- Being overweight.
- Being pregnant.
- Drinking alcohol.
- Eating certain foods, such as chocolate or peppermint, that may relax the valve between the stomach and esophagus.
- Taking certain medicines. If you think a medicine you take may be causing your GERD symptoms, talk to your doctor.
- Having a hiatal hernia.
- Having a condition called scleroderma, a rare disease in which a person's immune system begins to destroy normal, healthy tissues (autoimmune disease).
If you have too little saliva, heartburn is more likely. Cigarette smoking, certain diseases, or medicines can reduce the amount of saliva your body produces. If you have a problem with the lining of your esophagus that makes the lining more sensitive to stomach acid, your heartburn may be more severe.