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All You Need to Know About Acid Reflux in Children

Gastroesophageal reflux, also known as acid reflux in children, is a common ailment which affects the quality of life of numerous infnats. Acid reflux in children has been attributed to the extreme vulnerability of an infant’s immature digestive system. The ailment is caused by the backflow of food as well as gastric acid into the esophagus.

Gastroesophageal reflux, also known as acid reflux, is a common ailment which affects the quality of life of numerous children. Acid reflux in children has been attributed to the extreme vulnerability of an infant’s immature digestive system. The ailment is caused by the backflow of food as well as gastric acid into the esophagus. These stomach contents cause excessive discomfort and irritation in the esophagus and as a result, cause symptoms such as forceful vomiting and frequent ‘wet’ burps.

Symptoms of Acid Reflux in children

There are some common symptoms of acid reflux that parents and guardians should look out for in their children and infants. These symptoms include:

  • Bad breath
  • Colic
  • Irritability
  • Chest pain
  • Poor sleeping habits such as frequently waking up
  • Excessive drooling or salivation
  • Sudden crying
  • Refusing or being extremely picky about food
  • Abdominal pain
  • Hoarse voice
  • Constant runny nose
  • Poor appetite/ inability to eat a substantial amount of food despite feeling hungry
  • Burning sensation in the esophagus
  • Choking or gagging
  • Frequent ear congestion and infection
  • Nighttime cough
  • Sinus infection
  • Nagging dry cough
  • Poor weigh loss or weigh gain
  • Respiratory problems such as asthma, wheezing and coughing

Less common symptoms of acid reflux in children include difficulty in swallowing, need for constant drinking and eating in order to soothe their sore throat, noisy breathing and odd neck arching. It is worth noting that parents should have their older children who suffer from recurrent acid reflux investigates and evaluated by a gastrointestinal expert or specialist. This is due to the fact that food allergies as well as food blockages can cause identical symptoms to those of acid reflux and could be easily misdiagnosed by a concerned parent.

Complications that can arise due to acid reflux in children

The most common complications that can arise as a result of acid reflux in children are esophagitis and heartburn. Heartburn is characterized by a burning sensation in the esophagus that is caused by the backflow of gastric acid into the esophagus whereas esophagitis is characterized by the swelling and the reddening of the esophagus caused by acid reflux. Both complications cause children to have low appetite and discourage them from eating due to pain. In cases where esophagitis is severe, children may suffer from bleeding from the swollen areas of the esophagus. In addition to heartburn and esophagitis, children who suffer from acid reflux are also extremely vulnerable to tooth decay. This is due to the melting or damage of the tooth enamel caused by the frequent backflow of acid into the mouth through ‘wet’ burps.

Treating acid reflux in children

It is imperative that parents who wish to try out any treatment option for the treatment of acid reflux in their children first consult with a gastrointestinal specialist in order to acquire proper diagnosis as well as treatment options from an expert. It is also worth noting that most infants who suffer from acid reflux usually outgrow the condition after they are over a year old.

Treatment options for Infants who are less than a year, more often than not, involves the proper feeding techniques as well as proper positioning. Parents and guardians of infants who suffer from acid reflux are advised to sit their children in an upright position in order to prevent the backflow of the stomachs contents. Another lifestyle change that can aid reduce the symptoms of acid reflux in children that parents and guardians can employ is the elevating of the child’s head by using a pillow at bed-time. This effectively discourages any backflow of the stomach’s content into the esophagus as the child sleeps. In addition to the aforementioned lifestyle changes, parents and guardians of infants who suffer from acid reflux symptoms are encouraged to frequently burp their infants.

Dietary recommendations stipulate that parents and guardians of the children suffering from acid reflux avoid feeding their children:

  • Spicy food- Spicy food is known to slow down the process of digestion as well as increase one’s sensitivity to acid
  • Acidic foods- Food items such as tomatoes are well known to increase the stomach’s acidic content thus increasing the likelihood of heartburn
  • Fatty as well as fried foods- Such foods may increase the likelihood of acid reflux because they take a long time to be digested
  • Onions, peppermint, chocolate, caffeine and nicotine- These particular foods are known to increase the manufacture of stomach acid

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