Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is when the stomach backflows with stomach acid or non-acidic contents back into the esophagus. GERD is characterized by symptoms, with or without tissue damage, that result from repeated or prolonged exposure of the lining of the esophagus to acidic or non-acidic contents from the stomach. GERD is often accompanied by symptoms such as heartburn and regurgitation of acid. But sometimes there are no apparent symptoms, and the presence of GERD is revealed only when complications become evident.
What is the difference between reflux and GERD in children? In babies, reflux is called spitting up. In older kids the signs of GERD and reflux are burping, stomach aches, and heartburn. Most people experience reflux from time to time and it is usually not a problem. However, in some people reflux is so severe it develops into a condition called GERD. GERD occurs when reflux causes troublesome symptoms or complications such as failure to gain weight, bleeding, respiratory problems or esophagitis. There are some differences in the symptoms, management, and treatment in teens and babies with GERD.
With infants it is not uncommon for the baby to reflux or spit up. This happens for the majority of infants for the first year of life, and most of them are completely healthy. However, poor feeding, vomiting, irritability, and breathing problems are symptoms of pediatric GERD and you should consult your pediatrician as soon as possible. In many cases simple lifestyle changes can alleviate the GERD. Here is a link for more information GERD in infants http://www.gikids.org/content/22/en/refulx-gerd/infants
Kids and teenagers can also experience GERD. The signs and symptoms of GERD in kids and teenagers are hoarseness, coughing, wheezing, frequent regurgitation, difficult or painful swallowing, and recurrent pneumonia. Here is a link for more information on GERD in teens http://www.gikids.org/content/27/en/refulx-gerd/teens/symptoms
Here are some links for more information about GERD:
Here is a link for a research article on how to manage GERD in children:
-Matthew D’Antonio, PT, DPT
Pediatric Physical Therapist