Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a common problem in adults, but it can also affect children – even young babies. If your infant or older child is experiencing symptoms of GERD, the board-certified pediatric gastroenterologist at Kids and Tummies can help. At their office in Gulfport, Mississippi, the experienced team provides expert diagnosis and treatment for children of all ages who are suffering from GERD. Call Kids and Tummies to schedule a consultation or book an appointment online today.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a condition where stomach acid flows into your child's esophagus, causing pain and other symptoms commonly thought of as indigestion.
The esophagus is a tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. There's a valve (strong ring of muscle) at the bottom of your esophagus called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) that opens when you swallow to let food pass into the stomach, and then closes to stop stomach acid from getting out.
If the LES opens or closes when it shouldn't, it can cause symptoms of GERD. Babies often have gastroesophageal reflux (GER), which isn't usually a problem and just causes spitting up after a feed.
GERD is less common than GER in infants and is more serious, potentially leading to breathing problems, difficulty with healthy weight gain, and esophagitis (inflammation of the esophagus).
The causes of GERD in infants and young children might relate to how their esophagus and stomach are developing. For example, the angle where their esophagus meets their stomach, muscle development in the lower end of their esophagus, or pinched diaphragm fibers.
In older children, the causes are likely to be diet and lifestyle-related. Being overweight or obese, eating a high-fat diet, and overfilling the stomach could be to blame.
The Kids and Tummies team can determine the cause of your child's GERD based on their symptoms. In some cases, they might want to run tests to check for conditions with similar symptoms to GERD, such as eosinophilic esophagitis.
Symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease in babies and preschoolers include:
Older children and adolescents might experience chest pain (heartburn), have swallowing problems, cough or sound hoarse, belch excessively, have frequent nausea, and have abdominal pain that worsens when they lie down.
Mild cases of gastroesophageal reflux disease might just require lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, eating smaller meals, and avoiding lying down after eating. Your child should also avoid spicy or high-fat foods and carbonated drinks.
Medications can help with GERD, but these are normally only prescribed if lifestyle changes aren't sufficient on their own. Medications reduce the quantity of acid in your child's stomach and stop the stomach from producing so much acid.
If your child has any symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease, call Kids and Tummies today to schedule a consultation or book an appointment online.