Your doctor will start with a physical exam and questions about your baby’s symptoms. Refusing to feed, difficulty swallowing, and frequent vomiting may be symptoms of GERD in infants. If the muscle does not entirely close, liquid flows back into the food pipe from the stomach. This sequence occurs in all people, but it happens more frequently in infants under the age of 1 year. On occasion, surgery ( open Nissan fundoplication or ONF) may be needed for babies with severe reflux. If you are considering this procedure, make sure to talk to a pediatric surgeon who has performed many of these procedures and can tell you what you can expect with the surgery.
If an infant presents symptoms of GERD, it is important to get advice from a doctor or pediatrician as other, more severe, conditions share some of the symptoms of reflux in infants. Most of the time, reflux in babies is due to a poorly coordinated gastrointestinal tract. Many infants with GERD are otherwise healthy; however, some infants can have problems affecting their nerves, brain , or muscles. According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, a child’s immature digestive system is usually to blame and most infants grow out of the condition by the their first birthday.
Write down your baby’s symptoms, including how frequently your baby spits up and the amount of liquid that is spit up. Martin RJ, et al., eds. Gastroesophageal reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease in the neonate. In: Fanaroff and Martin’s Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine: Diseases of the Fetus and Infant. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2015. Accessed Aug. 3, 2018. If lifestyle changes don’t help, your pediatrician may recommend further investigation into other causes of your baby’s symptoms, such as GERD. Although medications like ranitidine (Zantac) or omeprazole (Prilosec) have been frequently used for treatment, studies question their effectiveness. The main function of these medications is to reduce stomach acid. Multiple studies have failed to show that these medications improve symptoms any better than no medication at all in many infants.
In the most common type of surgery, a surgeon wraps the top part of the stomach around the esophagus, forming a cuff that closes off the esophagus whenever the stomach squeezes – preventing reflux. For example, your doctor might recommend surgery if lifestyle updated blog post changes and medications alone haven’t stopped your symptoms. They might also suggest surgery if you’ve developed complications of GERD. Nichols, Hannah. “What’s to know about acid reflux in infants?.” Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 3 Feb. 2017. Web.
Reflux medication can either be PPIs (Proton Pump Inhibitors) or H2RA (Histamine 2 blockers). Both reduce production of stomach acid, which helps with heartburn. However, unless your baby actually has GERD (and not a wrongful diagnosis) these medicines will do more harm than good in the long run. Reflux drugs suppress acid production in the stomach, which is necessary as a line of defense against infections, and also crucial for absorption of nutrients. Esophageal pH monitoring. To measure the acidity in your baby’s esophagus, the doctor will insert a thin tube through the baby’s nose or mouth and into the esophagus. The tube is attached to a device that monitors acidity. Your baby might need to stay in the hospital while being monitored.