If your little one has been diagnosed with acid reflux, or you’re concerned they may have the condition, it can be pretty worrying. Obviously, as a parent, all you want is for your child to be happy and healthy. So, when something’s wrong, you instantly want to fix it.
Here, you’ll discover everything you need to know about acid reflux in infants. From what it is to how it can be treated – it really doesn’t have to be as scary as you might think.
What Is Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux, otherwise known as Gastroesophageal reflux (GER), occurs when the contents of the stomach are brought back up. When they reach the esophagus, it can cause uncomfortable and sometimes painful, heartburn. So, if you find your baby is spitting up a lot, it’s a sure sign they likely have the condition.
What you may not know, is there’s actually two types of acid reflux your baby could be suffering from. As well as standard GER, there’s also a more serious form of the condition known as Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This tends to be a longer lasting problem which can even stop your baby from feeding properly. It’s important to have the condition diagnosed properly to ensure baby receives the best possible treatment.
Causes And Symptoms
Acid reflux is actually really common in babies and it largely occurs because areas of the digestive system haven’t yet been fully developed. So, it’s common for babies to spit up for this reason every now and again. As well as spitting up, the symptoms of acid reflux to watch out for include:
- Refusing to feed
- Poor weight gain or weight loss
- Frequent night time wake ups
- Comfort feeding
Some of these symptoms can relate to other problems which can make it difficult to diagnose acid reflux. That’s why it’s so important to seek a proper diagnosis from a doctor or health professional.
If your baby has the more serious GERD, they will also typically experience symptoms such as difficulty breathing, irritability and coughing.
Is It Treatable?
Acid reflux in babies is treatable, but the majority of the time no treatment is actually required. However, if it is persistent or they’re diagnosed with the more severe GERD variation, several treatment options may be prescribed. Treatment will depend completely upon your baby’s age and specific symptoms. Medications, feeding changes and even surgery can be used to treat acid reflux.
Medications can be used to limit the amount of acid which builds up in baby’s stomach. It’s typically used on a trial basis after attempts have first been made to change their feeding habits. The main medications used to treat GERD include H2 blockers and Proton Pump Inhibitors. It’s so important to only give your baby medication if the doctor prescribes it. Never give your baby anything until it’s been approved by a doctor.
In very rare cases, surgery may be recommended. This tends to be used if baby has severe breathing difficulties.
Feeding changes do tend to be the first step, with rice cereal commonly recommended to be added to both formula and breastmilk. It’s also advisable to burp baby after they’ve drunk approximately 1-2 ounces of formula. You can also try holding your little one in an upright position for around half an hour after they’ve been fed.
Could Acid Reflux Be Linked To Other Issues?
It is possible your baby’s acid reflux could actually be a sign of an underlying health issue. It can be quite difficult to tell, due to how common the symptoms are. Acid reflux symptoms can mirror many other conditions, which makes it vital to ensure you’re getting a proper diagnosis.
Overall, acid reflux doesn’t tend to be serious and simple changes to the way you feed your baby can make a huge difference. However, it’s still important to seek advice from a doctor as they’ll be able to fully diagnose the issue and tell you whether treatment is required. So, if you suspect your little one does have acid reflux, don’t worry! Most of the time it will rectify itself on its own and the condition isn’t usually serious.
This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Always consult with a doctor or licensed medical professional before making any medical decisions.