Acid reflux is unpleasant enough for an adult, but for an infant or young child, it’s even more upsetting. If your child has symptoms of acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), Ahmet Aybar, MD, of Annapolis Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition in Annapolis, Maryland, can find out why and help restore them to health. Dr. Aybar is a board-certified pediatrician who specializes in treating children and young adults who have gastrointestinal conditions. Call Annapolis Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition today to schedule a consultation or book an appointment online.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease Q & A

What is gastroesophageal reflux disease?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD is a problem in which acid from the stomach travels back up the esophagus, causing a painful burning feeling. It’s a condition that commonly affects older adults, but it can develop in babies and children too.

Symptoms of GERD in children include:

  • Frequent vomiting
  • Persistent cough
  • Choking or gagging
  • Refusing to eat
  • Crying during or after a meal
  • Gas
  • Abdominal pain

Babies who have GERD are usually healthy, but their lower esophageal sphincter (LES) isn’t fully mature. The LES is what keeps stomach acid in the stomach, and as your baby’s body matures, they simply grow out of the problem.

Older children who have GERD might develop the condition because the LES relaxes when it shouldn’t, or there’s a buildup of pressure below the LES.

How is GERD diagnosed?

At Annapolis Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, Dr. Aybar can usually make an initial diagnosis of GERD after hearing about your child’s symptoms. However, your child might also need to undergo tests to confirm the diagnosis.

Possible tests for GERD include:

Barium swallow or upper GI series

Your child needs to drink a chalky liquid that shows up on a special X-ray. The barium liquid enables Dr. Aybar to see if there are any blockages or narrow passages in your child’s esophagus, stomach, or ileum, the upper part of the small intestine.

pH probe

A pH probe is a long, slim tube that has a probe on one end. Your child swallows the probe, and it measures the acid levels in their stomach over the next 24 hours.

Upper GI endoscopy

An endoscope is a flexible tube that has a tiny camera and a light on one end. It goes down your child’s throat while they’re under sedation, so Dr. Aybar can get a clear picture of your child’s esophagus, stomach, and ileum.

Gastric emptying study

For this test, your child eats or drinks something that contains a radioactive chemical. A miniature camera inside a pill called CapsoCam Plus® tracks the progress of the chemical to show if the acid reflux is happening because your child’s stomach is emptying too slowly.

How is GERD treated?

The treatment Dr. Aybar recommends for GERD depends on the age of the child and what’s causing the problem. With a baby, you might need to adjust how and what you feed them, following Dr. Aybar’s recommendations.

For an older child, making lifestyle changes can help, for example, eating smaller portion sizes and avoiding anything that makes the acid reflux worse. If these measures don’t help, Dr. Aybar might prescribe medications to reduce the level of acid in your child’s stomach.

Most children don’t need to undergo surgery for GERD, but it might be necessary if your child has breathing problems.

If your child has symptoms of acid reflux or GERD, call Annapolis Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition today, or book an appointment online.