Studies reveal that Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER), generally called Acid Reflux, is common among children of varying age groups, though acid reflux in children, especially in infants, may be overlooked easily. An estimated 7,000,000 children in the US currently suffer from GER. Children’s immature digestive systems are easy victims to acid reflux and as they grow up (up to one or two years of age), most children naturally come out of the problem. In case the child’s complaints continue, treatment by a pediatrician will be in need.
Nature Of Acid Reflux
In acid reflux, stomach contents i.e. food and gastric acid flow back up out of the stomach into the esophagus causing irritation and discomfort. The food coming up may or may not flow out of the child’s mouth. As a result, the child may vomit forcefully or have a wet burp that does not reach the mouth.
Symptoms Of Acid Reflux In Children
Many different symptoms can show in cases of acid reflux in children. The more common symptoms include: pain, irritability, sudden crying, colic; frequent vomiting or just spitting-up; inability to eat despite hunger; poor sleep; emission of wet burp or wet hiccup sounds; bad breath.
Less common symptoms include: difficulty in swallowing, gagging, and/or choking; sore throat and the need for constant eating and drinking to soothe it; poor weight gain, weight loss; hoarse voice; respiratory problems like asthma, bronchitis, noisy breathing, pneumonia etc.; ear infections, sinus infections, excessive salvation, drooling, and peculiar neck arching.
Reflux Condition And Complications In Acid Reflux In Children
In many young babies, regurgitation of a little milk, especially when burping after meals, is a common condition. It is not a bog problem until complications appear. Complications show up mostly in form of heartburn and esophagitis. Heartburn is the burning sensation resulting from the flow of acid from stomach into the esophagus. Esophagitis is the reddening and swelling of the esophagus due to acid reflux. It is very painful and can kill appetite. Severe esophagitis also causes bleeding from the inflamed part of the esophagus. Other complications include poor growth, trouble in swallowing, respiratory problems, and melting of tooth enamel leading to tooth decay.
Treatment Of Acid Reflux In Children
Different treatment methods are used for dealing with GER in children. Most children come out of the reflux situation after they get a year old. Till then, proper positioning and feeding techniques will do to provide relief. Children are to be positioned upright such that gravity does not allow flow of food and acid from the stomach into the esophagus. Frequent burping and avoiding spicy, fatty and acidic foods is also needed in coping with acid reflux in children. A variety of medications are used for treating acid reflux, e.g. antacids, motility medicines, acid suppressors, and acid blockers. In very severe cases of reflux, surgery is performed.