Recognizing Acid Reflux

When the LES doesn’t close completely, stomach contents and digestive juices can come back up into the esophagus. Upper GI endoscopy. This is done using an endoscope (a thin, flexible, lighted tube and camera) that allows the doctor to look directly inside the esophagus, check stomach, and upper part of the small intestine. Most children don’t need surgery to treat reflux. But it can help those who’ve tried other treatment that hasn’t worked or kids who have breathing problems , pneumonia, or other serious problems from GERD.

Infants are more prone to acid reflux because their LES may be weak or underdeveloped. In fact, it’s estimated that more than half of all infants experience acid reflux to some degree. Toddlers with occasional symptoms of acid reflux who are otherwise happy, healthy and growing normally are generally not at risk of harm and will likely outgrow their symptoms. However, if your child has any of the more serious symptoms that may be associated with GERD – such as frequent vomiting, refusal to eat, failure to gain weight normally or a chronic cough – schedule an appointment with your child’s doctor as soon as possible.

Rarely, an infant may require medications to bridge the gap during the neurologic maturation process that enables your child to “outgrow” his or her GER. These medications are discussed later. Acid Reflux can be particularly distressing for young children and can encourage an unhealthy relationship with food. After all, why will your child enjoy eating food if it’s followed by pain? And while it’s best to limit treatment with reflux medication to 2 weeks, some lifestyle and diet changes can go a long way towards a healthy, happy, active life despite the acid reflux.

In older children, the causes of GERD are often the same as those seen in adults. Also, an older child is at increased risk for GERD if he or she experienced it as a baby. Anything that causes the muscular valve between the stomach and esophagus (the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES) to relax, or anything that increases the pressure below the LES, can cause GERD. pH probe studies: This test involves passage of a thin, flexible tube through the nose and into the lower regions of the esophagus. The goal is to document the frequency of reflux of stomach acid contents over a prolonged period (usually 24 hours).

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