Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), can occur in both adults and in children of all ages. In fact, according to one 2019 study, “Gastroesophageal reflux occurs normally in infants, is often physiological, peaks at 4 months of age, and tends to resolve with time.” Below we review everything you need to know about acid reflux in children.
What Is Acid Reflux/GERD?
The esophagus is the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. When acid reflux/GERD occurs, it means the stomach contents are backing up into the esophagus.
The difference between acid reflux and GERD is that GERD is a more serious and long-lasting type of acid reflux. In other words, if your child is experiencing acid reflux more than twice a week for more than a few weeks in a row, they may have GERD.
What Are the Symptoms of Acid Reflux/GERD?
The symptoms of acid reflux/GERD in children include:
- Foul taste in the mouth
- Bad breath
- Nausea and vomiting
- Problems swallowing
- Breathing problems
- Tooth decay
What Causes Acid Reflux/GERD?
There is a muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter that opens to let food through and closes to prevent food from coming back up the esophagus. However, sometimes the muscle is weak or relaxes when it shouldn’t, causing acid reflux or GERD. This may be due to:
- A hiatal hernia, where the upper part of the stomach pushes upward.
- Increased pressure in the abdomen caused by obesity.
- Certain medications, such as asthma medications, antihistamines, pain relievers, sedatives and antidepressants.
- Smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke.
- Previous surgery.
- Severe developmental delay.
- Certain neurological conditions like cerebral palsy.
How Is Acid Reflux/GERD Treated?
Some lifestyle modifications can help relieve symptoms of acid reflux/GERD, such as:
- Losing weight, if necessary.
- Eating smaller meals.
- Avoiding fatty foods.
- Wearing clothes that fit loosely around the abdomen.
- Staying upright for three hours after eating.
- Sleeping at a raised angle.
Other medical treatments include:
- Over-the-counter antacids found at Lincoln Pharmacy on Morton Avenue.
- H2 blockers.
- Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs).
For more information or to schedule an appointment with an ear, nose and throat (ENT) physician, call Albany ENT & Allergy Services today.