Just like adults, children can also suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease. However, different from the type of acid reflux that happens in adults, a child’s condition is more likely to be misdiagnosed as colic. With 20 percent of children suffering from GERD, it is important to understand the disease, its symptoms, and how you can help your child overcome the problem. Failure to treat GERD early on can lead to respiratory and other complications later in life.
When your child consumes food, the food slides down their esophagus, through the sphincter, and into the stomach. In a normal body, the sphincter remains fully closed after the food is in the stomach. In less normal cases, in particular in children who are affected by GERD, the sphincter does not remain fully closed and the food and acid travels back up the esophagus. When this occurs, the child’s stomach becomes irritated and the acidity starts to burn the lining. As a result, your child experiences pain that is similar to heartburn. The main difference between GERD and simple acid reflux is that GERD is much more severe and it requires more medical attention.
Causes of GERD
There are a number of reasons your child may have GERD. The most common causes of GERD in children are frequent vomiting, a persistent cough, difficulty eating, gas, heartburn, or abdominal pain. In more extreme cases, your child’s GERD may be due to an underlying condition of colic, growth issues, or breathing problems. While you can try pinpoint the cause of GERD on your own, seeking the opinion of a medical professional is optimal. The medical professional will be able to determine the root cause and then work on addressing GERD by finding a solution or remedy.
Signs of GERD
It’s normal for your child to experience acid reflux once in a while, but it becomes abnormal when your child experiences it on a constant basis. The most common signs of GERD include symptoms such as nausea, belching, frequent wheezing or coughing, heartburn, difficulty and discomfort when swallowing, a high level of acidity in the mouth, and regurgitation of food after a meal. If your child is exhibiting symptoms of GERD, you should speak to your doctor about the issue. Left untreated, GERD can cause serious health problems later in life. Therefore, getting treatment now is best.
Treatment for GERD
If it is determined that your child is suffering from GERD, there are a number of treatment options that you have available to you. The first treatment option is to have a doctor understand the underlying cause of GERD and to attack that underlying cause. By eliminating the root of the problem, your child’s GERD will disappear. If there is no underlying cause, then your doctor may recommend a change of diet. Sometimes, the foods that your child is eating are simply not compatible with their body. As a result, your doctor will put your child on an altered diet.