Recent statistics show that children from 3 to 7 are victims of acid reflux symptoms between 2 and 8% of the time, and that for infants 20% is the real percentage that suffers. Since the 1990s, there has been an increase in infant gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Infants challenged on a developmental or neurological level are more likely to be prone to GERD.
To put it simply, acid reflux is when the digestive system does not work properly. The weakening of the LES is most often the reason for this. The LES is the lower esophageal sphincter. When it is too weak to shut off all the stomach contents in the stomach, then those contents flow back into the throat and even up past the larynx to invade the upper air passage. Reflux may also happen under normal digestive backpressure, for example after feeding, coughing, crying, and going to the toilet. Before getting into the causes and menaces of GERD in babies, we’ll look quickly at the cause that is local and immediate for this medical ailment. Note that there may also be serious complications of health involved such as infections, ulcers, pain, feeding problems, problems affecting the voice, even cancer.
Many infants exhibit vomiting on a regular basis as mild to moderate “spitting up”, which does not in itself cause distress from the mouth or nose. GERD and normal vomiting are therefore easy to confuse in infants. Diagnosis of GERD can be especially problematical. Because of the limited capacity of their esophagus, infants vomit or regurgitate more than adults. To further complicate mattes, indications of something amiss may be difficult to pinpoint, especially as infants are incapable of explaining in words.
Further symptoms can include belly pain, enlargement of the adenoids, chronic coughing, infections of the middle ear, asthma, anemia, spitting up of blood (known as hematemesis), a sibilant breathing sound, croup that repeats, arching of the spine and inflamed nose and /or sinus. When your infant falls victim to GERD, a number of further symptoms such as these appear. For instance, as GERD vomiting is inherently painful, babies who vomit too often will often cry or scream for hours on end or lie awake unable to sleep, a strong indication that they might be suffering from this.
That justifies early diagnosis and treatment, prerequisites for your infant to stay safe and well. Making an appointment with a gastroenterologist or an ENT (ear, nose, throat) doctor is the best solution for getting the proper diagnosis for your child. The danger of ignoring acid reflux in infants is that it may lead to serious complications as well. An infant who comes to think that feeding means pain may refuse breastfeeding and lose body mass. Potentially grave conditions such as erosive esophagitis can also be brought on by gastroesophageal reflux disease.
If a diagnosis of GERD is the doctor’s opinion, then parents must make a choice of treatment. Options of remedies for an infant with gastroesophageal reflux disease are of three kinds: surgical; medications (over the counter or prescription); or a holistic program.
Surgical solutions are not often considered, because of the danger of serious complications worse than acid reflux itself. Nissan Fundoplication, a surgical procedure, is one possibility, done to reduce looseness between the esophagus and stomach.
Prescription medicaments are also unsatisfactory for the reasons following:
1. Medications concentrate too much on symptoms of GERD (such as acid generation) but skip fundamental causes, such as lifestyle, diet and inner body triggers and factors.
2. For infants even more than adults, medications have certain risks. Cisapride with its severe secondary effect of heart arrythmia was taken out of circulation for that very reason. Pneumonia and Tourette’s syndrome are some of the serious side effects of other common medications. Reglan and bethanechol for example have not even been tested for babies as prescribed reflux medications.
3. Medication of any kind may engender a long-term reliance and work against your child’s auto-immune system to then aggravate the condition.
Had you heard that the best way to protect your infant from the distress and pain of GERD symptoms is to choose a holistic approach in conjunction with comprehensive moves towards a natural lifestyle and diet?
Studies done recently show the benefit of all natural holistic treatments of GERD. Studies by Rudolph, Mazur and Liptak also published in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology indicated that changing from cow’s milk formula to a formula based in casein hydrolysate could be better for infants who “spit up”.
Other studies done by Ravelli, Tobanelli and Volpi which appeared in the same Journal in 2001, showed that formula based on cow’s milk can result in delayed gastric emptying in infants with allergy to milk proteins. For infants with GERD, breastfeeding turns out to have significant positive points compared to any formula for babies, because milk from the breast gives faster digestive transit and overall digestion.
For this reason, the holistic approach taken by holistic medicine that makes the priority the protection of your infant from gastroesophageal reflux disease can be the safest and also the most effective choice in the long term. The conclusions above as well as many others, support the theory that infant GERD is not just a local ailment (the esophagus only), but in fact that it is the body in general reacting to a set of factors which are environmental, internal, and dietary.