You may have heard of gastroesophageal reflux, but you may not know what it means, what it feels like, or, perhaps most importantly, whether it can happen to your child.
What is Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER)?
Gastroesophageal reflux — GER for short — is a minor, and fairly common, condition.
What are the Symptoms?
Symptoms generally occur for up to two hours after eating. They can include a burning sensation in the chest or throat, chest pain, burping, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes a decrease in appetite.
Children suffering from GER may cough a lot at night, and may also have a sour taste in their mouth, or a feeling like they are “throwing up” in their mouth.
How Can it Be Prevented?
Certain foods may trigger reflux symptoms. If you notice your child complaining, try to identify what they recently ate. If you notice a pattern, try avoiding those foods.
Some foods that can trigger GER include:
- Spicy foods
- Greasy or fatty foods
- Citrus fruits
- Caffeine and carbonated beverages
- Pork products and processed meats
- Tomato-based foods and sauces
Sitting up when eating and after eating can help to prevent GER symptoms, as can avoiding overeating. Smaller, more frequent meals are always a good (and healthy!) way to go. Avoiding late-night snacks, and food less than an hour before bed, can also help.
Weight loss can also be beneficial to children suffering from GER. A plan of diet and exercise can help avoid this condition and improve healthy living overall.
When To Call the Office
If your child experiences GER symptoms, call us in the office and set up an appointment for evaluation In addition to the prevention tips listed above, there are several medication options for the treatment of GER when necessary. These are typically reserved for when lifestyle modifications don’t work, or for when there are rare cases of complications from stomach acid. We can help you decide if medication is right for your child, and if so, which one.
As always, give us a call anytime you have questions or concerns about your child’s health.
Dr. Amy Maddalena, a Kids Plus Doc since 2006, teaches the Expectant Parent Orientation class at our Pleasant Hills office.
Megan Beggs spent a rotation at Kids Plus as a PA Student from Slippery Rock University.