Have you ever wondered why your child is often complaining of chest pain? Or have you wondered why they have nausea, stomachache or sour burps? The reason could be simple. Your child may be getting heartburn.
Heartburn is often observed after eating a spicy or big meal. However, if this happens too often and is not associated with any particular trigger then it is due to Gastroesophageal Reflux or GER. You must be wondering how can a child have GER. Well, the disease is no longer restricted to adults. Children and even babies can suffer from this.
Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER)
Why does one burp, spit or develop heartburns in GER. This is a reaction of the acidic contents in the stomach which instead of moving ahead moves back into the oesophagus. The reason behind this backward movement is that the oesophageal sphincter or the muscles connecting the oesophagus to the stomach do not close properly.
Reflux on its own is not a worry. But when GER and reflux take place hand in hand then it causes discomfort. GER can cause heartburn after every meal. By the way, heartburn has nothing to do with the heart. These heartburns are like a burning sensation in the neck, chest and throat.
Wondering how babies get affected with GER even though they don’t eat anything? Babies who literally survive on milk (breast or formula) have refluxes into the oesophagus. Sometimes they also burp with small amounts of liquids that have been regurgitated. This also known as wet burps happens when a child has had food more than what he can consume. Well, the good news is that most babies, outgrow GER by the time they are 1-2 years old. However, in some children, the symptoms of GER may last. Children who suffer from neurobiological or developmental conditions are at a greater risk of the lasting symptoms of GER.
How To Recognize GER:
Heartburn is the most common symptom and can last up to 2 or more hours. It is often worse at meal times. here are some more symptoms:
- Bad breath from the child’s mouth
- Refusal to eat food
- Difficulty and pain in swallowing food
- Feeling of nausea after eating
- Presence of sour taste on waking up in the morning
- Pain in the chest – usually an indication of heartburn
- A wheezing sound if the food enters the windpipe
- Wet burps
Treatment of GER:
When a child suffers from GER then the doctor may prescribe an antacid so that the acid formation stops. A proton pump inhibitor like Prevacid or a Histamine 2 blocker to reduce the formation of the acid.
A lifestyle and diet change is also required in order to reduce the symptoms of GER:
- Fatty, fried and starchy food should be avoided
- Serve smaller meals to your child instead of large meals
- Cut down the carbonated drinks and acidic fruit and vegetables as they may irritate the child’s tummy
- Keeping head elevated while sleeping or lying down
- Avoid dressing the child in uncomfortable and tight clothes
Other than the treatment options mentioned above for GER, there are some effective home remedies as well. Some of them are:
- Fennel Seeds: These seeds contain an enzyme known as anethole. This relieves gastrointestinal spasm. Because of its taste, it is good for treating GER in children.
- Yoghurt: This has alkaline properties and is effective in maintaining the pH of the body.
- Basil Leaves: Boiling basil leaves in and drinking it when cooled helps to treat a child’s symptoms of GER.
- Aloe Vera: This controls GER in children. A concoction of Aloe Vera can be made by scraping out the gel and boiling it in some water. This should be given to the child before meals to avoid GER.
While you try to take care of your child’s diet also make a note of the foods which act as triggers. Some common triggers are spicy, sugary, salty and fried food, citrus fruits and caffeinated drinks. Making a light meal cooked at home is the best way towards the road to recovery.
Please Note: All the information has been sourced from the internet. Also, please consult your doctor before following anything that is mentioned here.
A – Autism
B – Bronchiolitis
C – Celiac Disease
D – Dyslexia
E – Eating Disorders
F – Fever