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Treating Teens with GERD


Updated March 20, 2008

Because of the increasing consumption of fast food and ever-expanding waistlines among teens, GERD is becoming an increasing problem in teenagers. The severity of their GERD symptoms will determine their treatment.

Your teenager's doctor will most likely suggest one or more lifestyle modifications first, before considering any medications. These modifications can include:

Eating smaller, more frequent meals
Large meals expand the stomach and can increase upward pressure against the esophageal sphincter.

Avoiding acid-stimulating foods and beverages
These foods include:

  • Fatty meats
  • Fried foods
  • Citrus fruits
  • Citrus juices
  • Chocolate
  • Peppermint
  • Excessive alcohol consumption (especially red wine)
  • Tomatoes and tomato-based products
  • Caffeinated beverages, such as coffee
  • Carbonated beverages, such as colas
  • Peppers
  • Garlic and onions
To help your teen avoid these foods while at school, you can try these tips for packing your his school lunches.

Waiting at least two or three hours after eating for bedtime
Gravity helps keep the stomach juices from backing up into the esophagus and assists the flow of food and digestive juices from the stomach to the intestines.

Elevating your teen's head while he sleeps
Lying down flat presses the stomach's contents against the LES. With the head higher than the stomach, gravity helps reduce this pressure. Ask your child's doctor how high to elevate the head.

Wearing loose-fitting clothes around the waist and stomach
Clothing that fits tightly around the abdomen will squeeze the stomach, forcing food up against the LES, and cause food to reflux into the esophagus. Clothing that can cause problems include tight-fitting belts, tight-waisted jeans, and slenderizing garments.

Keep a heartburn record
You can have your teen record when he experiences heartburn symptoms, what foods were consumed or what activity he was doing before the heartburn occurred, the severity of each heartburn episode, and what gave him relief. You can then take this information to your teen's doctor so you can both determine if any other modifications need to be made to diet, activity, or medications. To get you started, you can use this heartburn record.

If reflux symptoms continue despite making changes in lifestyle, the doctor may suggest one of the following remedies:

Antacids neutralize stomach acid. These include:

Acid Blockers
Also known as H2 blockers, these suppress acid production in the stomach. These include:

Acid Suppressers
Also known as Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs), these completely block acid production in the stomach. These include:

Additional Resources:


"Heartburn, Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER), and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)." NIH Publication No. 07–0882 May 2007. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). 18 Mar 2008.

"Gastroesophageal Reflux in Children and Adolescents." NIH Publication No. 06–5418 August 2006. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). 18 Mar 2008.

Marsha Kay, M.D., Vasundhara Tolia, M.D.. "COMMON GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS IN PEDIATRIC PATIENTS." American College of Gastroenterology. 18 Mar 2008.

  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Heartburn/GERD
  4. GERD
  5. Children and Acid Reflux
  6. Acid Reflux in Children - Treatment
  7. Treating Teens with GERD - Treating GERD in Teens - GERD Treatment in Teens

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