Nothing is worse for a parent than to watch their child hurting or unhappy and not know why. It is believed that approximately 10% of all children suffer from the uncomfortable symptoms of acid reflux, and depending on their age, they may not even be able to tell you what’s bothering them.
Help put your mind at ease by brushing up on these common signs and symptoms of acid reflux in both babies and young children.
In order for our food to get from our mouth to our stomach, it must travel down the esophagus. At the base of the esophagus there is a small valve that constricts to prevent our food from coming back up. Sometimes this valve can be weakened, allowing food and acid to return up the esophagus and into the mouth. This is known as gastroesophageal reflux (GER) or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
When GERD occurs, it is incredibly uncomfortable and will leave a sour taste in your child’s mouth. They may cry after eating or not want to eat at all. It is also common for children to have a frequent sore throat or cough for no apparent reason, and they may belch more than normal. Infants may spit up often and cry, especially if they are put into a reclining position.
Reducing the Symptoms of Acid Reflux and Pediatric GERD
If a parent suspects their child may have acid reflux, there are several dietary and lifestyle changes that can be made to help manage these painful symptoms and make your child more comfortable.
One of the best ways to begin treating your child’s acid reflux is to feed them smaller meals with less fat content. Other tips include the following:
- Avoid serving spicy foods.
- Reduce the amount of juices and acidic foods in their diet.
- Help reduce the amount of calories your child eats each day if they are overweight, as obesity is one of the biggest contributors to pediatric GERD.
- Make a rule that there will be no eating 3 – 4 hours before bedtime since lying down makes the symptoms worse.
- Find a way to lift their head up by 6 – 8 inches while they sleep.
- Avoid chocolate, tomato sauces, and peppermint.
- Monitor what foods cause their discomfort and be able to convey that to a pediatrician for a proper diagnosis.
Infants with Acid Reflux
Infants are among the most likely to experience acid reflux, so knowing the symptoms and how to treat them is essential for a happy baby. Most infants with this condition will improve by about 6 months of age as they start to spend more of their time upright.
Parents can improve their infant’s acid reflux by following these tips:
- Burp your infant during and after feeding to manage gas.
- After eating hold your infant upright.
- Avoid using a carseat when you are not traveling as this position can make symptoms worse.
- If your child spits up frequently, try feeding them a smaller amount of breastmilk or formula with each feeding.
- Loosen diapers so they are not too tight.
- Try feeding your baby rice cereal with milk. The ticker substance will make it less likely to come back up.
- Don’t allow smoking around your infant as this can cause symptoms of acid reflux as well as several other serious health conditions.
If your child’s acid reflux symptoms become worse or do not improve with lifestyle and dietary changes then it is probably time to consider seeing a pediatrician. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Godson Asamoa of Bethany Pediatrics, please call our local office today at (610) 734-1600.