Weakened LES Valve
Around one in four individuals with gastroesophageal reflux disease have a weakened lower esophageal sphincter (LES) valve, which allows more frequent bouts of heartburn. The weakened LES valve is usually associated with the elderly and obese individuals. Drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco also relaxes the LES valve and even stress can do the same. Carbonated beverages are also a common cause of heartburn due to the gases they contain, as these put pressure on the LES valve as well. Typically, when food is swallowed, the LES valve tightens after it is consumed, but the type of food eaten can have a significant effect on whether or not it will compress efficiently.
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