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Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder in Children

Are you familiar with the condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD)? Colloquially known as acid reflux, this condition is common in adults, characterized by the rise of stomach acid up through the esophagus to the throat. Ideally, stomach acid should not go up; when that happens, the patient will encounter symptoms like heartburn, among others.

While it may seem like a health issue for adults, infants and children may also experience GERD. These are the common symptoms that these younger GERD patients encounter:

  • Recurring coughing or vomiting
  • Loss of appetite or eating trouble
  • Belly pain, gas or heartburn

 

Most infants suffering from GERD are healthy. The problem, however, lies in their digestive system, which is still developing and may likely encounter the disorder. But by the time they reach their first year, infants generally grow out of the condition.

In toddlers and young children, GERD usually arises when the muscular valve that acts as a gateway that connects the esophagus and stomach relaxes. In some cases, the condition is caused when there is a buildup of pressure along this muscular valve.

Pediatric GERD is diagnosed based on the symptoms and the child’s medical history. These tests may include:

Barium Swallow: It is an X-ray test that examines the upper gastrointestinal series. The patient will be asked to drink a substance that, when viewed on an X-ray machine, will highlight the digestive tract, from the esophagus to the stomach and down to the small intestine.

pH Probe: A long, thin tube with a probe on its tip will be inserted into the patient’s mouth and down to the esophagus. This method is used to ascertain the stomach acid levels.

Upper GI Endoscopy: A lighted tube with a camera at its end will be inserted into the patient’s mouth to examine the esophagus, stomach and small intestine.

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