Thursday, October 25, 2012

Learn about the hidden dangers of acid reflux in children

Tom Clark — Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), widely known, as Acid Reflux, is usually associated with adults. However,  estimates reflect almost 35% of babies born annually in the United States suffer from a form of this condition .

Infants and children may develop acid reflux due to lactose intolerance or an allergy to dairy products. Dairy products include all foods produced by cows; milk, cheeses, eggs, as well as foods containing whey. This also includes low and non-fat food items. Although it is common for infants to outgrow the condition, many with a family history of acid reflux do not.

Types of acid reflux disease

There are two types of acid reflux disease associated with infants and children:

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease: This involves a condition where the body's stomach acid regurgitates or travels up from the stomach into the esophagus. This form of acid reflux in infants is primarily due to an immature digestive system and most infants grow out of the disease as they mature.

Barrett's Esophagus: If acid reflux disease in children is left untreated, the potential to develop into Barrett's Esophagus increases. This is a form of intestinal metaplasia—changes in the cell structure. Once cell structure changes occur, the possibility for development of carcinoma increases.

Symptoms in infants

Because infants suffering from acid reflux are too young to communicate their discomfort, becoming familiar to the symptoms is helpful. These include:

  • Chronic and repeated coughing, spitting up, vomiting, belching, and burping

  • Significant weight loss and failure to gain weight

  • Respiratory issues such as raspy breathing and wheezing

  • Unusual breath odor

Although these symptoms are common in infants, repeated and frequent occurrences may indicate acid reflux. It is important to notify your pediatrician of the occurrences so they may perform a thorough examination.

Hidden harmful conditions: Ear and sinus infections

Surprisingly, many individuals are unaware of the most common and serious result of untreated acid reflux in children. Many young children experience chronic sore throats and ear infection ailments associated with acid reflux. As the upward flowing stomach acid enters a child's throat, many times, inflammation of the adenoids occurs. When adenoids become irritated and inflamed, they have a tendency to swell, effectively serving as a barrier for flowing sinus fluids. When left untreated, chronic middle ear and sinus infections can develop.

It is important for infants and children to receive a professional examination conducted by a licensed pediatrician. Primarily the condition is usually a direct result of consuming dairy products; however, hereditary conditions may also be the cause. There is a variety of nutritional dairy substitutes available in the market today. Your pediatrician may replace your child's dairy intake with alternatives, such as soy and rice milk as well as dairy-free formulas for infants.

There are effective and safe treatments in place for infants and children suffering from acid reflux. A knowledgeable pediatrician is the source for proper diagnosis and treatment plans.

About the Author

Tom Clark is a freelance writer, professional blogger, and social media enthusiast.