A common condition among infants, acid reflux causes your baby to spit out the contents of the stomach following a feeding.
Though these symptoms will typically subside overtime, acid reflux requires close monitoring as it may persist as your baby grows. In these cases, it can lead to complications and may develop into more serious problems like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), allergies or a blockage.
The most common symptoms of acid reflux in infants and children include:
- Frequent vomiting and regurgitation
- Persistent coughing or wheezing
- Difficulty eating
- Refusing to eat
- Heartburn, gas and abdominal pain
- Crying during and after feeding
- Complaining of a bad taste in their mouth
Causes of acid reflux
When you swallow, a band of muscle around the bottom portion of your esophagus – also known as your lower esophageal sphincter – relaxes to allow food and liquid to pass through. When you’re done swallowing, the sphincter closes again. When it doesn’t close properly or relaxes abnormally, stomach contents and acid can flow back into the esophagus, causing regurgitation and other symptoms.
Acid reflux among infants is usually caused by the immaturity of their digestive system, which is why they tend to outgrow the condition as they age. However, in some cases underlying issues that affect the nerves, brain or muscles may be causing the problem.
Among older children, chronic acid reflux (also known as GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease) develops due to a variety of factors that cause the lower esophageal sphincter to relax. This can include being overweight, overeating and constipation. In addition, there are certain foods and drinks that are known to relax the lower esophageal sphincter, such as fatty foods, mints, chocolate, carbonated drinks and caffeinated tea.
How is acid reflux diagnosed?
In children and infants, our Los Angeles & Orange County specialists are usually able to make a diagnosis of acid reflux by collecting information from the parent about the child’s medical history and symptoms. However, in some cases additional tests are needed, including:
This special x-ray allows us to visualize the esophagus, stomach and small intestine to determine if your child’s acid reflux is caused by a structural abnormality or obstruction.
This test is used to measure the levels of your child’s stomach acid. It also allows us to determine if an underlying breathing challenge is causing the reflux. To administer the test, we will have your child swallow a thin tube that stays in the esophagus for 24 hours.
Using a thin tube and camera, this test allows our specialists to see inside the esophagus. In this way, we can confirm reflux and determine any potential underlying causes.
Gastric emptying study
This test allows us to determine how quickly food leaves the stomach. If your child’s stomach empties slowly, it may be contributing to the reflux.
How is acid reflux treated?
Most babies outgrow reflux by age one without further complications. However, in some cases symptoms persist through the years and may require treatment. In these cases, you’ll be advised to make the following lifestyle changes:
Elevate the head of your child’s crib or bed.
Hold your baby upright for 30 minutes after eating, and make sure children remain upright at least two hours after eating.
Feed your baby or child smaller amounts of food throughout the day, rather than a few large meals.
For children, limit foods that may worsen their reflux, such as fatty foods, fried foods, spicy foods, carbonated drinks and caffeine.
If your infant or child suffers from acid reflux, please know that relief is possible with among the best acid reflux treatment Los Angeles has available at the Lung & Allergy Institute of Los Angeles. Please contact us today to schedule an appointment, and let us helpcondition under control.Contact Us