Acid reflux is a common issue that many adults experience. The worst part is that this can affect your infant too. If your young one experiences acid reflux, they are said to have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
You must understand the signs and symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux (GER) to ensure your kid remains healthy. So here is a complete guide about GER in infants.
What Is Gastroesophageal Reflux?
Gastroesophageal reflux in infants mainly refers to the contents of the stomach returning to the esophagus of your young one. The esophagus is a tube that allows food and liquid items to enter the infant’s stomach. A sphincter muscle guards the point where the esophagus meets the stomach.
This muscle closes after food has entered the stomach to prevent backflow. However, when the muscle does not close properly, digestive juices and other contents from the stomach can reach the esophagus. This causes acid reflux in your infants.
Infants are more prone to GER because their sphincter muscle is weaker and still developing. The condition can occur at the age of 4 months and may disappear by the time your toddler turns 1 or 1.5 years old.
Symptoms Of Gastroesophageal Reflux In Infants
It is unlikely that your infant will still suffer from GER by the time they turn two. Of course, the condition may remain in some kids. Luckily, you can identify the problem using various symptoms such as:
1. Frequent Spitting Or Vomiting
All infants experience spitting normally, but a forceful action can indicate that your infant is suffering from GER. This is especially true if your infant of age one or above spits forcefully after having food. If the disease is severe, the kid may spit:
- Yellow fluid
- Green fluid
Forceful spitting can also be identified by the crying of the infant right afterward. This is because the process is painful. Your kid may also frequently vomit due to gastroesophageal reflux. This will also cause them to be fussier than usual.
2. Not Eating Food
A common thing that will help you identify your infant’s condition is a refusal to eat. Infants avoid eating and drinking in GERD because they experience pain during feeding.
This is primarily because of the return of stomach contents into the esophagus. The contents can cause irritability in your infant’s throat. So having food can be extremely painful, depending on the severity of the reflux.
3. A Wet Hiccup
This is another common symptom of gastroesophageal reflux because of the easy identification. A wet hiccup means that your infant will be spitting some liquid whenever they burp. So you can easily understand that your kid is suffering from acid reflux.
4. Failure To Gain Weight
Many infants with gastroesophageal reflux do not gain weight because of the following:
- Frequent spitting
- Poor diet
If spitting and vomiting occur together, you can easily identify GER as the cause. Infants with GER also refuse to eat, so they may be feeding poorly because of the issue. This also leads to weight loss or difficulty in gaining more weight.
5. Gagging After Feeding
Your infant may gag on the contents returning to the esophagus from the stomach. This can help you understand the child is suffering from GER. The symptom may also worsen, depending on your baby’s position during feeding.
If your infant does not remain upright after feeding, the choking may be serious. So you must pay attention to things such as spitting, body position, and gagging noise when feeding your baby.
Treatment Of Gastroesophageal Reflux In Infants
The disease disappears on its own in most infants by 12 to 18 months. However, treatment becomes necessary if the issue persists. Here are the top things you can do to prevent gastroesophageal reflux in your baby:
1. Feed More Frequently But Decrease The Quantity
Controlling your infant’s diet will be helpful for treating GER. You can increase the number of feedings per day but reduce the quantity. Less food in the stomach will decrease the pressure on the sphincter muscle.
This will allow the muscle to close the junction point properly so that no food returns to the stomach. The issue will likely disappear once your infant grows older because the sphincter muscle will become well-developed with time.
2. Ensure The Baby Sits Upright While Feeding
The body position of your baby must be upright when feeding your infant. This will prevent the acids from moving up to the esophagus and causing irritation. So the baby will be more comfortable eating food.
Another thing you must remember is to keep the infant upright even 30 minutes after the feeding. This will allow the passageway between the esophagus and stomach to remain closed. So returning of food contents will be less likely.
3. Get The Correct Nipple
Many people bottle feed their infants due to high ease and other reasons. If you do this, you must take some precautions to prevent your baby from suffering due to GER. The top thing to get right is the nipple size of the bottle.
If the hole on the nipple is large, it will cause the milk to move too fast. This can cause regurgitation, and your infant may experience gagging.
Another thing you must ensure is that the nipple remains filled with milk when you’re feeding your baby. This will prevent the infant from air gulping.
4. Burp Your Infant More Frequently
Burping the infant is a common activity that many parents do to ensure the child does vomit the food. So you must do this more frequently regardless of whether you breastfeed or bottle feed your baby. This will reduce the effect of the contents returning to the esophagus.
So burping your baby more frequently will ease the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux. Typically, you should burp the infant after feeding them one or two ounces of milk from a bottle. Breastfed babies must burp every time they remove the nipple.
5. Seek Advice From A Pediatrician
You may resolve GER in your baby by controlling the diet and feeding position of the kid. However, sometimes the issue may be more severe and cause you to seek guidance from a pediatrician. This is why you should never be completely shut off from the idea of talking to a doctor.
This is the best treatment for your infant if they vomit milk frequently and refuse to eat. Surgery may also be necessary if the symptoms worsen with time instead of easing.
This is your complete guide to gastroesophageal reflux in infants. You can use various symptoms to identify the issue, such as:
- Frequent spitting
- Refusal to eat
- Wet Hiccups
- Gagging after feeding
The issue resolves on its own after 12 to 18 months, so you don’t have to be worried about it initially. However, you must seek a pediatrician if the issue persists after two years.
Treatment steps such as controlling your baby’s diet and getting the correct nipple for feeding will also help you.
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