Indicators of Acid Reflux in Infants, Management and Control
Acid reflux in infants, known as Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER) among doctors, is a circumstance when food and stomach acid flow back up into the esophagus. A ring of muscles at the lower part of the esophagus called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) opens and closes to allow food to enter the stomach or to release gas after meals.
However, the LES may also allow stomach contents to flow back into the esophagus and out the mouth which result to spitting up or even vomiting. This phenomenon normally occurs among infants shortly after a feeding. Reflux can occur when babies cough, cry, or strain also.
Acid reflux in infants has its own name (spitting up) and normally occurs in more than 50% of babies during the first three months of age and lasts until about 12 to 18 months of age.
Most babies do not require medication or treatment but a small number of babies with severe symptoms of acid reflux require medical evaluation and treatment.
Common symptoms of acid reflux infants are:
- Recurrent spitting up or vomiting
- Bad temper when feeding
- Dislike of food or eating only small amounts
- Irritability or constant crying
- Wet burps
- Recurrent hiccups or coughing
- Irregular sleep habits and frequent waking
- Bad breath
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Recurrent Sore throat
- Weight loss or poor weight gain
- Breathing difficulties or respiratory problems such as asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis, wheezing
- Ear or sinus infections
- Excessive drooling
Acid reflux in infants may require a simple physical examination by your baby’s pediatrician and in rare cases, the tests may include blood and urine tests, esophageal pH monitoring to measure acidity in your baby’s esophagus or upper endoscopy to determine if there is an abnormal contraction or inflammation in the esophagus.
Treatment of acid reflux in infants depends on the seriousness of the problem. Sometimes no treatment is necessary as the acid reflux will disappear as your baby grows older. However, if the condition is more serious or your baby is diagnosed with GERD, prescription medication or OTC medication may be necessary such as antacids, acid suppressers or acid blockers that are medically approved for children of certain ages.
All treatment options of acid reflux in infants must be discussed with your doctor before using any over-the-counter remedy.
Remember, acid reflux in infants occur because the stomach contents back up with the gas through the esophagus and treatments usually disappear as your baby grows older.
After feeding your baby, make sure to keep his head elevated for at least 15 minutes before putting him down on his crib; in this way, you can make him burp in the normal position (head upright) not cause the back up of stomach contents or spit ups.
Treatment options depend on your baby’s symptoms and age but more often than not simple precautions are all that are necessary to prevent acid reflux in infants.