What are the symptoms of reflux?
Some of the symptoms include:
- Pain during or after eating
- Being sick during feeds or straight after
- Being hungry but refusing to feed
- Gagging almost immediately after eating because of pain
These symptoms, if they continue, may be due to reflux. Your doctor may monitor acid levels in the oesophagus and stomach over 24 hours or suggest a special examination under anaesthetic.
Treatment for reflux
Your doctor may try thickening the feed first to see if this helps.
He may suggest feeding your baby in an upright position to help the feed stay down, or winding your baby after small amounts of feed. Some may suggest encouraging the use of a dummy to keep the food tube working and swallow any reflux back down.
Some medicines can make the stomach less acid.
Reflex can get better
Many reflux problems get better as the child reaches the age of one. Yet children who are not in an upright position very much or who have muscle problems may not grow out of it.
Other problems with reflux
Other problems associated with reflux are failure to gain weight and keep enough food down to stay healthy.
There can also be problems with teeth because of the excess acid, which comes back into the mouth with the food from the stomach. Keeping the teeth clean and the mouth fresh can be difficult. You may need to work hard to get your child to accept tooth cleaning and mouth hygiene routines.
Reflux: things to try
- Make the mouth cleaning activities part of the daily routine. Lots of cheek patting, lip burbling and funny faces can be both playful and productive.
- If the problems are severe or persist, there are surgical techniques that can help. This is a big decision and you will need to talk to your doctor about the probable benefits and possible difficulties. If possible, talk to parents who have gone through this with their child. Having to feed a child, who finds this painful and experiences spitting, gagging or being sick, can be very upsetting. These children may not sleep well, may not grow well and may be irritable and may get chest infections.
- Share your experiences and ideas for coping with other parents.
- If reflux persists, your doctor may want to discuss the idea of tube feeding with you.