Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)
What causes gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)?
The lower esophageal sphincter, or LES, is a muscle located at the bottom of the esophagus; it opens to allow food entry into the stomach and then closes to keep it there. If this muscle relaxes too often or for too long, acid refluxes back into the esophagus, causing vomiting or heartburn.
What is heartburn?
Heartburn, or acid indigestion, is a burning chest pain that begins in the breastbone and moves upward to the neck and throat. It can last as long as two hours, and is often worse after eating.
Are there other symptoms of GERD?
Each child experiences symptoms differently, but common symptoms include:
- Refusal to eat
- Frequent vomiting
- Coughing fits at night
- Frequent colds
- Frequent sore throats, especially in the morning
- A sour taste in the mouth
What are the complications associated with GERD?
Some infants and children with this condition may have stomach contents move up the esophagus and spill over into the windpipe. This can cause:
Other dangers include:
- Failure to grow and gain weight, if your child vomits frequently.
- Anemia, caused by inflammation or ulcers in the esophagus.
- Possible long-term complications like esophageal narrowing and Barrett's esophagus, abnormal cells in the esophageal lining.
Are there foods that cause or worsen GERD?
Chocolate, peppermint, and many high-fat foods seem to cause the LES to stay open longer than normal; citrus fruits and tomatoes increase acid production in the stomach. Your child should also avoid caffeinated drinks, such as soda.