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What You Need to Know About GERD in Children

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Updated April 30, 2008

Under normal conditions, food passes through the esophagus, and the muscle at the bottom of your esophagus closes off so food and liquids will remain in your stomach. This muscle is the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). When the LES doesn't close properly, stomach contents and acid can back up into the esophagus.

This often begins in infancy, but only a small number of infants continue to have problems as older children. Evaluation by a physician is advised for any child or adolescent with persistent symptoms.

Symptoms of GERD in Children

When the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) doesn't close properly, stomach contents and acid can back up into the esophagus. If your child experiences symptoms of acid reflux, medical attention is needed.

Symptoms of acid reflux include a burning sensation in the throat, sore throat, frequent cough, and sometimes respiratory problems.

More on GERD symptoms in children.

Diagnosing GERD in Children

Your child's doctor may base a diagnosis of acid reflux on your child's symptoms and a physical examination. The doctor may also order tests to verify the diagnosis, or to determine if a more serious condition, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is the cause of the reflux.

These diagnostic tests can include an upper endoscopy, lab tests, or esophageal pH monitoring test.

More on diagnosing GERD in children.

Treating GERD in Children

The course of treatment the doctor prescribes for your child will depend on your child's age and symptoms.

The doctor may first suggest lifestyle modifications to see if this will ease the reflux symptoms. These can include what your child eats and when he/she eats.

If the reflux continue or worsen, your child's doctor may prescribe one of the following: acid suppressors or acid blockers.

More on treating GERD in children.

Additional Resources:

  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Heartburn / GERD
  4. GERD
  5. Children and Acid Reflux
  6. Acid Reflux in Children - Basic Infor
  7. Child GERD - What You Need to Know About GERD in Children

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