GERD in Children and Adults Has These Common Signs and Symptoms
An estimated 60 million individuals in the U.S. have the burning, fiery symptom that is referred to as "heartburn" at least once every month. While many do not imagine them when picturing classic heartburn patients, teens, young children, and even babies are among those included in that estimation.
In about 20% of individuals, heartburn points to a more serious problem known as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), an ailment that can significantly affect the health and wellness of those who have it. If you or a loved one experiences recurring or intense symptoms associated with acid reflux, reach out to GastroArkansas to find a gastroenterology specialist who offers GERD treatment in Little Rock, AR.
What factors cause GERD?
Positioned at the bottom of your esophagus (where it meets the stomach) lies a muscle known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Whenever you ingest food or liquids, the LES relaxes to enable it to flow into the stomach before tightening again to keep stomach acid from regurgitating back up. When this muscle fails to function properly, the acid can regurgitate into the esophagus, producing a burning feeling (heartburn) and potentially a bad taste in your mouth.
GERD is a disease that may occur in those who commonly have problems with acid reflux. As time goes on, persistent exposure to stomach acid can lead to long-term damage to the lining of the esophagus, causing discomfort and a higher risk for additional issues involving your esophagus.
Though GERD is not typically the result of any particular trigger, there are a range of factors that might induce frequent acid reflux in adults and children, such as:
- Lying down after eating
- Eating large meals
- Smoking (or being exposed to secondhand smoke)
- Eating spicy or high-acidity foods
Younger patients (particularly infants) may also be more prone to acid reflux given that the muscles in their digestive tract are not as developed.
What are the common symptoms of GERD?
GERD carries a lot of the same signs and symptoms as acid reflux; however, they might be felt more frequently (at least two times a week at moderate-to-severe intensity). Additional signs and symptoms develop in time as a result of recurring acid reflux. The more frequently occurring signs and symptoms of GERD in adult patients are:
- A sensation of a lump of food stuck in the throat
- Dry cough
- Hoarse voice or sore, raw throat
- Foul breath
- Frequent heartburn (burning sensation in the chest)
- Pain in the chest area
- Regurgitation of sour liquid or food
- Swallowing difficulties
Along with the points listed above, signs of GERD in children can include:
- Refusing to feed (in infants)
- Breathing problems, such as coughing and/or wheezing
- Difficulty gaining weight
- Recurring bouts of nausea or vomiting (after infancy)
It is imperative to obtain treatment for GERD in kids before it becomes a problem that impacts their health and development. If you or your child have symptoms that could be due to chronic acid reflux, request a visit with a GastroArkansas gastrointestinal specialist without delay to explore your options for GERD treatment.
How is GERD generally diagnosed and treated?
Our Little Rock, AR gastroenterologists may assess your symptoms and check your esophagus for indications of gastroesophageal reflux disease with the help of a pH probe or an endoscope device. If it is determined that you have the disease, they may advise certain lifestyle changes, which might involve avoiding foods that stimulate acid reflux, weight loss, avoiding lying down after eating, or quitting smoking.
Your GI specialist may additionally advise taking medications to reduce acid or strengthen the LES to hinder stomach acid out of the esophagus. For some individuals, a surgical approach may be needed to improve the connection between the esophagus and the stomach. Treatment options for GERD in adults or children could differ on an individual basis, so it's crucial to partner with a GI specialist to make certain you get the ideal treatment for your condition.
Help for GERD in patients of all ages
Acid reflux signs and symptoms are common, but they could be the start of greater health issues in the absence of care. The experienced gastroenterologists at GastroArkansas are pleased to offer a variety of methods to treat GERD in adults and children. For more information about the causes of GERD or to find treatment for GERD in Little Rock, AR, request a visit with one of our GI specialists.