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Acid Reflux Symptoms

Acid Reflux Basics


Updated October 15, 2007

Acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux is actually a lot more difficult to diagnose in children than most parents believe.

Many children spit up when they are newborns and infants, but most don't necessarily have acid reflux, since they are just a little messy and don't have any other symptoms, such as weight loss, difficulty eating, or choking, etc.

Other children don't spit up at all, but do have more subtle symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, such as being very fussy or not feeding well.

Acid Reflux Symptoms

Newborns and younger infants typically have the most obvious reflux symptoms, since they are the most likely to actually spit up or vomit.

Older infants and children are more likely to have more subtle or 'silent reflux' symptoms, including:

  • irritability
  • trouble sleeping
  • anorexia
  • weight loss
  • failure to thrive
  • arching the back while feeding
  • apnea
  • painful or difficulty swallowing
  • recurrent abdominal pain
  • chest pain
  • a chronic cough, recurrent pneumonia, or persistent asthma symptoms
  • a hoarse voice
  • Sandifer syndrome - posturing episodes that are often mistaken for seizures
If your child's acid reflux symptoms are more subtle, for example he is only fussy and never spits up, the possibility of acid reflux may be overlooked, and you may even need an evaluation by a pediatric gastroenterologist for a diagnosis.

Among the most important things to understand about acid reflux symptoms are that not all children with acid reflux spit up or vomit and not all young children who spit up have acid reflux.

Talk to you pediatrician if your child spits up more than you think is normal or if he has any signs or symptoms of acid reflux.

1 Sandra F. Braganza and Henry M. Adam. Gastroesophageal Reflux. Pediatr. Rev., Aug 2005; 26: 304 - 305.
2 Decisions in diagnosing and managing chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease in children. Hassall E - J Pediatr - 01-MAR-2005; 146(3 Suppl): S3-12

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