7 common symptoms of acid reflux in infants
Acid reflux is a condition in which the acid produced by the stomach moves to the esophagus, causing a burning sensation of the stomach and discomfort in the chest that we normally refer to as heartburn. If you experience acid reflux twice a week or more, you may be suffering from a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Infants may, however, be more highly susceptible to acid reflux as their lower esophageal sphincter (LES) may be weak. LES is a ring at the bottom of the esophagus where it connects with the stomach. It has been estimated that close to 50% of infants experience acid reflux due to weak or underdeveloped LES. Usually, infants at four months experience this condition the most and it tends to mellow down and vanish when they are around 12 to 18 months.
Here are the common signs and symptoms of acid reflux noticed in infants:
Vomiting or spitting
While spitting is normally considered normal in infants, forceful spitting may often be a sign of GERD. It is an important symptom in infants that are over a year old and still spit forcefully shortly after having meals. Also, spitting blood or any fluid that is green or yellow in color is a cause for worry. While usual spitting is painless, forceful spitting because of GERD may cause pain and discomfort.
Difficulty in eating and swallowing food
When partly digested particles from the stomach go back towards the esophagus, infants may become irritable and refuse eating or drinking at all. This is an important sign of acid reflux.
Hiccups and wet burps
An infant may also spit out liquid when he or she burps, which is among the signs and symptoms of acid reflux. Though not very common, this may also be a sign of GERD.
Inability to gain weight
Because of excessive vomiting, the infant may also lose a lot of weight. If the infant does not seem to be gaining weight as per a healthy growth chart, it can be a sign of acid reflux.
While infants tend to arch their bodies, any visible unusual arching may be a sign of pain that they may be experiencing because of stomach fluid that has made its way to the esophagus. However, one must not rule out arching as acid reflux completely. It could be indicative of another problem as well.
Coughing frequently or intermittent pneumonia
If food does not settle in the stomach, the infant may cough regularly which may be a sign of acid reflux. There is also a possibility that the food may be inhaled into the lungs, which may lead to pneumonia. In some rare cases, an infant may also develop asthma due to GERD.
Another key sign of acid reflux is disturbed sleep patterns. If you notice that the infant is not being able to sleep through the greater part of the night, it may be time to consult the doctor for acid reflux. For immediate solution, one may choose to feed the infant long before sleeping, so that stomach contents settle in by sleeping time.