Between 25 and 40 percent of Americans will suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease, known as GERD, a chronic condition that is characterized by regular bouts of acid reflux. The reflux can be caused by a number of things, including overeating, though the primary cause is a faulty valve between the stomach and the esophagus. It's unknown what, in turn, can cause that valve -- known as the lower esophageal sphincter -- to spasm improperly, though obesity, smoking, inactivity, large meals and dining close to bedtime are all risk factors. Additionally, some medications can also increase the risk of the condition, including antihistamines, nitrates and calcium channel blockers.
Because many of the causes are lifestyle-related, the condition can be controlled through changes to diet and other behavior. Aside from discomfort, there are important reasons to prevent the condition, including an association with an increased risk of esophageal cancer. Unfortunately, though, rates of GERD are on the rise: One recent Norwegian study found that there are now 1.5 times as many acid reflux sufferers as there were in 2001.
While there are medications to treat acid reflux -- and symptom managing medicine, like antacids, as well -- many people who suffer from acid reflux can treat their conditions exclusively with non-medical therapies. Here are some with a proven track-record: