Acid reflux is the backward flow of the stomach contents into the esophagus. In infants, such regurgitation sometimes causes vomiting, which is commonly known as ‘spitting up’. Here is a brief overview about the treatment for this condition.
Acid reflux or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is the backward flow of the contents of the stomach into the esophagus, and sometimes, out of the mouth. In the long term, acid reflux can damage the lining of the esophagus and cause other health problems. Almost all infants spit up a small amount of food after feeding. This is commonly known as ‘spitting up’. Usually, babies outgrow this condition, as they reach 12 to 18 months of age; but in some babies, it persists. It can also lead to other health problems, like respiratory diseases.
The common symptoms of acid reflux in infants include frequent vomiting or spitting up, sudden or constant crying, feeding problems, refusal of food, arching the neck or back while feeding, recurrent choking and gagging, frequent hiccups and burps, bad breath, breathing problems, wheezing, and recurrent pneumonia. In some babies, this disease may cause sore throat, poor weight gain, frequent ear or sinus infections, etc.
Treatment of acid reflux in infants depends on the symptoms and severity. Doctors may not suggest any treatment for babies, who are otherwise healthy. Treatment is necessary for those with severe symptoms. Generally, treatment includes some lifestyle changes and medication.
- Change the feeding position of your baby. Keep him/her upright during feeding, and for the next 30 minutes.
- Elevate the head of the baby’s bed by 30 degrees. This may prevent flowing back of stomach contents to the esophagus.
- Go for small and frequent feedings, as overfeeding can cause acid reflux.
- You can gently pat on the baby’s back to make him burp frequently, while feeding. This may reduce the gastric pressure in the stomach, which is the cause for reflux.
- If your doctor allows, you can thicken the liquid food for infants or even start solid foods. Any diet modifications or changes in feeding timing should be done, according to the advice of your doctor.
It is also suggested that, mothers who breastfeed, should avoid consumption of caffeine products, chocolates, garlic, and other food items that can cause reflux in infants. These lifestyle changes are recommended for infants with mild symptoms. Those with severe symptoms may also follow these remedial measures, along with medical treatment.
Medicines for acid reflux are often prescribed for infants with severe symptoms of acid reflux. Such treatment is also provided for those babies, who do not find any improvement with lifestyle changes. Medicines are administered to neutralize or decrease the acid content of the stomach. Generally, antacids, acid blockers, and proton-pump inhibitors are prescribed. These medicines block the enzymes, which produce acids in the stomach. Other medication include those, which are intended for improving the coordination of the gastrointestinal tract. Medicines for individual conditions, may also be prescribed. Never use any medicine, without consulting the doctor.
Acid reflux is very common in infants. However, medical attention is very important, for those with moderate to severe symptoms.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.