You may wonder, are there any kind of hereditary or genetic components to GERD? In general, no. In some rare instances, patients may have conditions which can affect swallowing and so forth, but oftentimes gastroesophageal reflux disease is acquired and there may be many reasons for it. Some of the more common ones are increased weight, the effects of hormones, either from birth control pills and/or pregnancy. Cigarette smoking can lower the sphincter pressure in that valve that protects your esophagus from the reflux of acid. What else? If you have certain connective tissue disorders such as Lupus, which is an inflammation in the lining of certain tissues, or if you have Scleroderma, which is a condition where the lining of your esophagus becomes very hard and fibrotic. That can compromise your sphincter and exacerbate the effects of reflux. So there are a number of possible causes or etiologies for gastroesophageal reflux disease.