The stomach is full of hydrochloric acid which is used to assist in the digestion of food and liquids. However, should this acid find its way into other areas of the body, this can lead to many health problems. ENT for Children has many years of experience in treating acid reflux and GERD so you can be sure that we can help alleviate your child’s condition.
What is acid reflux & GERD?
Acid reflux and GERD occurs when hydrochloric acid from the stomach travels to the esophagus or throat, which irritates the tissue there. There are a number of things that can cause acid reflux in children, and some of these include obesity and medications. The acid found in the stomach has no adverse effect on it due to the stomach lining which provides protective mucus. However, both the throat and esophagus lack this protective mucus, which means when exposed to stomach acid they can become damaged. Because the esophagus can be found behind the heart, acid reflux is sometimes referred to as heart burn.
The esophagus uses a structure called the esophageal sphincter to block acid from coming up through the stomach. This sphincter opens when the child eats to process the food. It will then close to stop anything from flowing through the opposite direction. However, when a child is suffering from GERD, the sphincter muscles will relax at inappropriate times, which allow the contents of the stomach and the acid which accompanies it to travel upwards and damage the esophagus.
What are the symptoms of acid reflux & GERD?
There are over a dozen symptoms associated with acid reflux, but one of the most persistent is a burning sensation in the chest (heartburn). This burning sensation will begin at the top of the abdomen, and will then move to the throat. Acid reflux can last as long as two hours, and additional symptoms include:
- Dry cough or bitter taste
- Acid regurgitation into the throat
- Weak or raspy voice (hoarseness)
- Difficulty swallowing
- Nausea or sore throat
- Vomiting and respiratory problems
How is the diagnosis established?
Acid reflux is not normally considered a serious condition, but if your child is suffering from it, Dr. Samadi will examine them and refer them to a gastroenterologist if necessary. Some tests for GERD will need to be conducted by a radiologist. If acid reflux is making it difficult for the child to sleep, or it is not resolved by home remedies it is best to seek medical assistance.
How is acid reflux & GERD treated?
Generally, acid reflux treatment can be carried out at home. ENT for Children recommends that parents make a number of lifestyle changes for their children, including the types of food they eat and the liquid they consume. A balanced diet in most cases will go a long ways toward alleviating this condition and ensuring it doesn’t return.
Additionally, children who are engaged in exercise or sports have a reduced chance of becoming obese, which is one of the leading causes of GERD. In the short term, antacids can be purchased over the counter to alleviate any of the symptoms your child is experiencing, but long term lifestyle changes are the best solution to preventing this condition. Do contact us for more recommendations.