Reflux

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

Your doctor may be able to diagnose reflux based on symptoms. In other cases, they may decide to:

  • monitor acid levels in the oesophagus and stomach over 24 hours (a pH study)
  • watch how food is digested by x-ray (barium study)

Treatment for reflux

Your doctor may try strategies to reduce their symptoms. These may include:

  • feeding your baby in an upright position
  • winding your baby after small amounts of food
  • keeping your baby in an upright position for at least 20 minutes after the feed

Sometimes your doctor or dietician may try to make milk feeds thicker to see if this helps reduce symptoms. Some medicines can reduce the production of stomach acid. Others can neutralise the acid in the stomach.

Always seek advice from your doctor before starting reflux medications.

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 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 
  • chest infections
  • failure to 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 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.

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