Acid reflux baby- how to diagnose and treat
Do you have an acid reflux baby?
Having a baby unwell is not only uncomfortable for the baby but very stressful for the mother as well. If your baby has visible signs of being uncomfortable like throwing up or spitting, or it may have a cough and wheezing you may have an acid reflux baby.
The normal thing is to say your baby has colic. Not all babies have colic, and if your baby is just plain miserable it may be an acid reflux baby. Infant reflux can be a serious condition and can lead to things like malnutrition and poor growth in the baby. There are a significant number of babies born with infant reflux to a certain degree. As much a 50% can have some form of infant acid reflux and it can be as high as 85% in premature babies. While most babies will outgrow infant reflux after only a few months and will probably not require any medical treatment for the acid reflux, there is a percentage that do not outgrow the disease and will have problems with it. Some can suffer complications and do not respond to the acid reflux treatment.
Infant acid reflux complications
Infant acid reflux is an uncomfortable sensation for the baby since the acids that reflux to the esophagus irritates the baby’s throat. But if the child develops complications then outcome is they may suffer from gastro-esophageal reflux disease or GERD for short. The complications of GERD include, but are not limited to, aversion to food, weight loss, esophagitis, asthma, apnea, wheezing, anaemia, Barrett’s esophagus. They may need feeding by tube. Other problems can be that the acid can erode the teeth enamel.
Commonly, acid reflux occurs when abdominal pressure increases while the baby is very full. Coughing and crying right after the baby had been fed can result to that pressure in the upper stomach which pushes the stomach acid to the throat. The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) opens to allow gas out when the baby is burping after meals, this is normal in children and in adults alike, but with GERD the stomach contents enter the esophagus and sometimes out of the mouth. Stomach acid in the expelled contents irritate the babies esophagus, throat and mouth and can lead to some of the acid reflux problems already mentioned. Gerd can also occur when a baby coughs, strains, and cries.
The symptoms of an acid reflux baby
Most babies experience reflux in the first three months, and so is normal, but infant acid reflux symptoms may experience per the following:
Being uncomfortable or irritable
Not able to feed properly
Blood in the stools.
Severe symptoms of GERD will only appear in small percentage of babies and most should have stopped spitting up after 12 to 18 months.
Infant acid reflux tests
While there are noticeable symptoms of acid reflux, some infants may not show signs such as throwing up and this condition is called silent acid reflux. It’s because their tendency is to swallow up the acids instead. Although the child is not pestered by the reflux, this could still result in irritation and damage to the esophagus. One way of detecting silent acid reflux in infants is using a PH probe. Babies with infant reflux can be distinguished by the amount of time the esophagus contains acid. Taking an esophageal PH test will allow the doctor to determine if GERD is present. A tube is passed through the nose into the esophagus and a tiny acid sensor records and sends back a signal as to how much acid is present.
To diagnose acid reflux in infants other tests can also be carried out. One is to have endoscopy where a tube containing optical system for viewing is entered down the throat into the gastrointestinal tract. The doctor can check for any problems in the esophagus lining, stomach and duodenum. Another acid reflux test is an x-ray, where the patient swallows barium and an x-ray of the esophagus containing the barium is taken.
Infant acid reflux treatment
The treatment for acid reflux in baby will depend on the Childs age and symptoms. The effective cure for infant acid reflux in babies is a thickened formula. This could be done by adding cereal into the baby’s food. And when feeding the infant, keep him in an upright position and not lying on his back. Feeding the baby smaller quantities at more frequent intervals are also helpful as it decreases the chance of acid refluxing. While changing a diaper, especially after feeding when you know that the infant is still full should not be done with the baby on its back. Burp the baby frequently when feeding say once every 1 to 2 ounces of formula will help to reduce the acid reflux. Acid reflux medication may be talen but you should always take your doctors advice and diagnosis before using any.
Breastfeeding will also serve as a great help to decrease the vomiting and the symptoms of acid reflux in infants. The nutrients in a mother’s breast milk have been proven to supplement the needs of the infants. Plus, the natural formulation of breast milk avoids the side effects such as constipation in chemically prepared medications. However, the paediatrician can prescribe other acid reflux medications to give relief to the infant in times of discomfort. The parents must take note of the critical administration of the drug. In case the particular formula prescribed does not work or results in graver side effects, it is advised to move to a different one.
Once infant acid reflux is detected, precautionary measures should immediately follow. Since the infant cannot yet speak of the discomfort he is suffering, parents should be patient enough to attend to their needs. You do not want your acid reflux baby to grow into an acid reflux adult.