The newborn has to adapt to the harsh environment as previously he/she was under the protection of his/her mother. Adapting to the new environment the baby can have several problems and one of the common problems in babies is acid reflux. So you should know everything about the problem of acid reflux in infants to make sure they don’t have any problems.
What is Acid Reflux in Infants?
Acid reflux refers to the backing up of stomach content into the throat causing a sore-like taste. It can be an uncomfortable experience for the baby and it may get parents concerned. Because the baby might not eat food, cry continuously, do not gain weight etc. Acid reflux in infants can leave parents concerned about the health of their babies. But having all the information about it and getting the right treatment will help them solve it.
Cause of Infant Reflux:
In the esophagus, there is a valve controlled by a ring of muscles. Since your baby is too young, these rings of muscles are still developing, and thus they don’t always work properly. So when the baby’s tummy is full. Milk and acid can come back into the food pipe which can cause discomfort to the baby. This can be a common problem and 90% of the babies get better by the time they turn a year old.
Another cause for the problem can be because of the slower working of the digestive system of the baby. In such cases, when the food remains in the stomach for longer durations, it can cause allergy and thus cause acid reflux.
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Signs of Acid Reflux in Infants:
Symptoms of acid reflux in infants may be a visible problem but in some of the cases, there can be a condition known as silent reflux. No need to worry, you can have certain baby acid reflux symptoms which can help you determine the cause.
Some of the baby acid reflux symptoms are-
- Your baby might bring back small amounts of milk.
- You may observe your baby occasionally vomit after you feed him/her.
- He/she may have hiccups and cough after being fed and sometimes may splutter a bit too.
- Some of the things we can encounter during silent reflux are as follows-
- In some of the babies who face this acid reflux problem, the babies swallow the milk that comes up instead of spitting it out.
- In other cases the milk might come up but not to the level of reaching into the mouth.
- Baby can make plenty of noise or start crying after being fed.
- If you notice your baby swallowing just after you have fed him/her even if there is no milk inside the mouth, then this could be a good symptom of acid reflux.
- This reflux may cause a sore throat of the baby so he may have a cough and feel extremely uncomfortable.
- The baby will refuse to eat anything and cry continuously due to the discomfort.
The acid reflux might be a severe problem for babies as they will refuse to eat anything and thus hunger can trigger more stimulation in the digestive tract which can cause more discomfort.
Usually, this problem fades away by the time your baby grows up because as your baby grows, his/her digestive tract may also develop fully thereby preventing the episodes of acid reflux in infants. But if this problem is causing extreme discomfort to your child and is not getting resolved you can use several remedies to treat the problem.
Diagnosis of The Problem:
- If you observe any of the above mentioned symptoms, then you can consult your medical expert regarding the diagnosis of the problem. The doctor can diagnose acid reflux on the basis of the symptoms you have mentioned and other case histories of the baby. Other tests such as the following can be performed to diagnose the problem-
- Barium swallow or upper GI series. This a type of X-ray test which can help us to identify if there is any blockage or narrowing in the concerned area
- pH probe i.e. it is used to make a regular report of the level of acid in the stomach of the baby
- Upper GI endoscopy is a test that uses a thin, flexible, lighted tube and camera that allows the doctor to look directly into the esophagus to identify the cause of the problem your baby is facing.
- Gastric emptying study is a test in which your baby drinks milk or eats food mixed with some radioactive chemical and a special camera follows it through the digestive tract which will show you the cause of reflux.
Infant Acid Reflux Remedies:
If the problem of acid reflux persists and is causing extreme discomfort to your baby, then it’s time to look up for remedies to make your baby comfortable and maintain good health of your baby. Thus, to solve the problem of acid reflux, you can take the following measures as a remedy-
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1. What You Feed:
Usually, bottle-fed babies have fewer acid reflux problems. As they are used to encountering foreign food particles in their bodies apart from breast milk. Their body is adapted to a good digestion process and thus reducing the problem of acid reflux.
2. Reduce Episodes Of Feeding:
If you breastfeed your child you should spend less time nursing your child as an already full stomach will trigger more problems and can cause discomfort to the baby. Your baby is more likely to spit the milk when the stomach is full. Which is caused due to the pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter. When food more than the capacity of the stomach is given, pressure on this muscle can cause problems and allow the contents to rise up in the esophagus.
3. Czech Bottle Or Nipple Size:
You should use the right amount of bottle size to feed your baby. Small sizes nipples can cause the baby to gulp air as well while large ones may cause an excess amount of milk to flow. This excess amount may cause acid reflux. Using appropriate-sized bottles can help regulate the amount of milk that enters to the esophagus and help in proper swallowing and digestion of the milk thereby preventing any problems.
4. Thicken The Breast Milk Or Formula:
If you give formula to your child, then try changing the brand as the brand might not suit your child. If you breastfeed your child then you can avoid foods like dairy products from your diet. In case any type of food intolerance is causing the problem of acid reflux. Consult your healthcare provider or a paediatrician regarding the approval of the addition of rice cereal to the formula or breast milk to thicken it. The thickening of formula or breast milk may help to stop stomach contents from rising up again in the esophagus.
5. More Frequent Burping:
Avoid your baby feeding two hours before bedtime whether you bottle feed him or breastfeed to help in proper digestion. Helping your baby burp more often after the feeding sessions. Will help in proper digestion and relieve gastric pressure and thus preventing acid reflux.
6. Changing The Position Of Infant:
It is suggested that babies sleep on their backs to prevent problems for the babies. But this type of position can obstruct the air path for babies having the problem of acid reflux. So with the help and advice of your doctor put your baby to sleep on their side or stomach.
Place your baby with its stomach downwards and head turned sideways so that its nose and mouth don’t get obstructed. Keep the head a little bit elevated by keeping a small pillow or giving a little elevation under the head to let the effect of gravity work which will help to prevent the reverting back of contents from the stomach into the esophagus.
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7. Try Gripe Water:
Gripe water is basically composed of peppermint, lemon, ginger, fennel and chamomile. But other ingredients may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Gripe water has not been proven scientifically to get babies relieved from the problem of acid reflux. But you can try it once as it may cause a solution to your problem. Before administering your baby anything before 6 months you should consult your medical expert as it is believed that giving anything other than breast milk to the baby before 6 months can cause infections in the baby. So talk to the paediatrician regarding the administration of anything if your baby is not 6 months yet. Avoid giving products which may contain sodium bicarbonate, sucrose, fructose, or alcohol as these ingredients may worsen the problem.
If these remedies don’t help in solving the problem of acid reflux in your baby. Then the pediatrician may suggest some other ways such as treatment of the acid reflux with medication. Medication can involve the administration of drugs which will neutralize the acid present in the stomach in excess amounts. If medication is not effective surgery might also be an option. It depends on the condition of the baby.