Acid reflux, which is also termed as gastroesophageal reflux, is one of the most frequent problems among infants. An acid reflux baby will often suffer from a range of conditions, from a mild degree to a severe one, such as recurrent spitting up, abdominal pain, and night waking. Don’t just take it for granted. Acid reflux babies need proper attention before it severely affects their health. Worse, acid reflux disease can lead to malnutrition and poor growth.
Infant acid reflux is an uncomfortable sensation for the baby since the acids that reflux to the esophagus irritates the baby’s throat. Commonly, acid reflux disease occurs when abdominal pressure increases while the baby is very full. Coughing and crying right after the baby has been fed can result to that pressure in the upper stomach which pushes the stomach acid to the throat.
Acid reflux in newborns usually develops when they are between two to four weeks old. Doctors usually prescribe medicines that minimize the production of digestive acids. Within six to nine months, the acid reflux starts to naturally subside. At this time period, the babies spend most of their time in an upright position. This is to apply the law of gravity on the food taken in; that is, the food stays down more naturally and reduces possible regurgitation.
Symptoms of acid reflux in babies includes the adverse loss of weight, continual vomiting, recurrent choking episodes, too much drooling, problems in swallowing, hoarseness, food aversion and chronic ear infection.
While there are noticeable infant reflux symptoms, some infants may not show signs such as throwing up. It’s because their tendency is to swallow the acids instead. Although the some acid reflux infants are not bothered by the reflux, this could still result in irritation and damage to the esophagus. One way of detecting silent acid reflux in infants is through the pH probe.
To diagnose acid reflux disease in infants, certain tests can be performed. One of which is the barium test where the reflux baby has to swallow a little amount of barium. Then the doctor could detect the passage of food outlined by the chemical. However, it will only work in the moment that the child is undergoing acid reflux while being tested. In place of barium, a radioactive solution could also be made to swallow before an x-ray. Through this, the frequency of the acid reflux could be tested. An endoscope views the infant’s mouth, esophagus and the tract of food in the stomach.
An effective cure for infant acid reflux is a thickened formula. This could be done by adding cereal into the baby’s food. And when feeding the infant, keep him in an upright position and not lying on his back. The same case is true when changing the diaper, especially after feeding when you know that the infant is still full. It would be best if the infant can burp frequently to reduce the acid reflux. Small amount of meals should be given at short time intervals.
Breastfeeding will also serve as a great help to decrease the vomiting and the symptoms of acid reflux in infants. The nutrients in a mother’s breast milk have been proven to supplement the needs of the infants. Plus, the natural formulation of breast milk avoids the side effects such as constipation in chemically prepared medications. However, the pediatrician can prescribe other medications to give relief to the newborn acid reflux discomfort. The parents must take note of the critical administration of the drug. In case that the particular formula prescribed does not work or results to graver side effects, it is advised to shift to a new one.
One of the most common forms of infant acid reflux prevention is a life style change for your baby which includes:
- Small, frequent meals,
- Holding the baby upright during feeding and for approximately one half hour after feeding,
- Thickening formula with rice cereal, and
- Modifying the child’s sleeping position by elevating the head of the crib or bed. This is easy to do with an infant acid reflux pillow. For an infant too young to be placed on a pillow, simply put the pillow on top of the mattress and under the sheet, or under the mattress. Gravity will prevent the contents of the stomach from refluxing back into the esophagus.
Treating reflux in older children follows the same recommendations as for adults:
Modify diet to eliminate acid producing foods such as citrus, tomato products, chocolate, carbonated beverages, and very spicy foods. Every food does not trigger reflux in everyone; so try eliminating all and slowing adding them back one at a time. Have the child avoid lying down for at least an hour after eating. Using an infant wedge pillow to elevate the torso during sleep is definitely an option. If these things don’t help then your child may need medication. Always check with your child’s physician before making any changes.
Once a newborn has been identified as an acid reflux infant, precautionary measures should immediately follow. Since the infant cannot yet speak of the discomfort they’re suffering, parents should be patient enough to attend to their needs. An can get additional information in the Heartburn Help section of this website.
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