Infant GERD Symptoms

By Alicia Bodine

  • Overview

    Infant GERD Symptoms
    GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is another name for acid reflux. It is most commonly found in adults, but can be seen in infants and children. Since the symptoms may be different for infants than those found in an adult, it is important to research them. This way you can recognize them in your child and get the necessary help. The sooner your child gets treated, the sooner she stops living in pain every time she eats.
  • Causes

    GERD can be hereditary. This means that if either of the infant's parents suffer from the disease, the infant has a chance of suffering from it as well. Another cause is when the gastrointestinal tract fails to work properly. The lower esophageal sphincter is supposes to stay closed so that the acid in the stomach does not affect the esophagus. If the lower esophageal sphincter is open then the acid makes its way upward in to the esophagus. When this happens over a period of time, a person is considered to have GERD.
  • Symptoms

    Infants with acid reflux suffer many feeding problems. First, they spit up, and even throw up during and after feedings. This can be mild or severe. Second, they experience excessive drooling. Babies drool, but when they have GERD it is magnified. Third, a baby with GERD may fuss and not want to eat. This is because the acid that keeps coming back up through the esophagus causes sore throats. Finally, swallowing may become more difficult as the throat and esophagus become more irritated. These symptoms are serious and need to be evaluated by a physician because if an infant doesn't eat, he or she cannot gain weight. This can cause many other health problems.

  • Symptoms

    Another annoying symptom for both parent and baby is trouble sleeping. Anytime the baby lays down, the opening to the esophagus is pressed upon. As the baby tries to sleep the acid creeps up the esophagus and causes coughing and choking. This wakes the baby up. The baby may also get hiccups. If the acid slides in to the airways while the baby is sleeping they can aspirate the fluid in to their lungs and end up with pneumonia or bronchitis. If your baby has any of these symptoms you need to get him or her checked out as soon as possible.
  • Diagnosis

    A pediatrician may diagnose your infant with only the information you provide him or her. The doctor may also order some testing to confirm the suspicions. The first test is a PH probe. A tiny probe is sent through a babies nose down in to the esophagus where the acid reflux levels are tested. The second test is an Upper GI endoscopy. This test sends a tiny tube down in to the esophagus, the stomach, and part of the upper intestine. Biopsy's might or might not be taken. The third test is a Gastric emptying study. The baby ingests some chemicals and the doctors follow it through the gastrointestinal tract with a tiny camera.
  • Treatment

    Infants are treated mostly with medications. Zantac or Pepcid are fairly safe and go a great job at blocking the acid. Another drug called Reglan is used to help the digestion process which in turn stops your infant from vomiting across the room. The two drugs can be used together although Reglan cannot be used in conjunction with several other drugs. These drugs can be used until the infant outgrows the acid reflux. This may take six months or a few years. An infant is usually free of the condition by the age of five.
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