Is Acid Reflux in Children the Same as in adults?


Reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux (GER), occurs not only in adults but in children as well. Reflux in adults is a condition when there is a backup of stomach content, including stomach acid, from the stomach to the esophagus. This condition will cause individuals to experience heartburn, regurgitation, and a bitter taste in the stomach. 


This uncomfortable condition occurs in children and even babies. Symptoms of GER in children and babies vary according to their age since when babies are born, their digestive system is not as mature as an adult's, thus the symptoms throughout childhood are different, but in general, they do experience it as well.


Babies with spit are common, especially after they have consumed milk and burped. This little spit is called GER. But if your baby experiences frequent vomiting associated with discomfort, difficulty feeding, or weight loss, it may be something more serious than GER. But the condition of GER in babies, children, and adults is almost the same.


For babies, it is usually because of their poorly coordinated gastrointestinal tract (immature GI system), while for children it might be caused by obesity, overeating, eating spicy and/or oily foods, drinking caffeinated and/or carbonated beverages, and certain types of medication. But all in all, the cause of GER to occur in children is the same as in adults: it is when anything causes the muscular valve between the stomach and esophagus (LES) to relax, or it can occur due to anything that increases the pressure below the LES.


Symptoms in children


The most common GER symptoms in infants and children are:


Frequent or recurrent vomiting

A frequent or persistent cough or wheezing

Refusal to eat or difficulty eating (choking or gauging while feeding).

Heartburn, gas, abdominal pain, and colic.

Regurgitation and reswallowing

Complaining of a sour taste in their mouth, especially in the morning.  


Tips to identify and help children experiencing GER.


When it comes to children, it is best to pay closer attention to their complaints or observe them, as children frequently do not know what is wrong with their bodies and lack the vocabulary to describe the pain that they are experiencing. Apart from this, you may also suggest the child sit upright for two hours after eating, especially if they eat something that commonly triggers their GER (e.g., oily, spicy foods, carbonated, caffeinated drinks). You may also try to give your child several small meals throughout the day instead of three large meals. Make sure that your child is not overeating, and encourage your child to do regular exercise. You can help babies by elevating the baby crib or bassinet, or by holding the baby upright for 30 minutes after feeding and assisting him/her in burping. 


In conclusion, the acid reflux condition that occurs in adults occurs in children too. It is just that sometimes children do not know how to describe it and do not understand what happens to themselves when such things happen. The key is to pay attention to their complaint and help them with the tips above!