Data from recent studies show that children from 3 to 7 must endure acid reflux symptoms between 2 and 8% of the time, with this figure rising to 20% of infants who suffer. Since the 1990s, infant gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) has been on the increase. Infants challenged on a developmental or neurological level are even more at risk from attacks of GERD.
Before relating the reasons and dangers of GERD in babies, we’ll look briefly at the cause both local and immediate underlying this medical condition. In plain words, acid reflux is when the digestive system malfunctions. The weakening of the LES is the most common cause for this. The LES is the lower esophageal sphincter. When it is not strong enough to keep all the stomach contents in the stomach, then those contents move to the throat and even past the larynx to get into the upper air passage. Reflux may also occur under normal LES pressure, for example after feeding, crying, going to the toilet and coughing. However there may also be serious complications of health involved such as infections, ulcers, pain, feeding problems, issues with the voice, going sometimes as far as cancer.
Many infants “spit up” on a regular basis, which, as vomiting, does not in itself cause discomfort, vomit passing through the mouth or nose. GERD and normal vomiting can be easily mistaken one for the other in infants. Diagnosis of GERD can be a special problem. Because of the limited volume of their esophagus, infants vomit or regurgitate more than adults. To add further difficulty, signs that all may not be well are difficult to see, especially as infants have no way of putting into words what they are feeling.
Additional signs include pain in the belly, infections of the middle ear, a whistling breathing sound, enlargement of the adenoids, chronic coughing, asthma, anemia, spitting up of blood (known as hematemesis), croup that repeats, back-arching and inflammation of the nose and /or sinus. When GERD attacks your infant, 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 stay awake unable to go to sleep, an indication that they may well be victims of this.
Early diagnosis and treatment is justified, and they are prerequisites for your infant to return to safety and good health. An appointment with a gastroenterologist or an ENT (ear, nose, throat) doctor is the best solution for an accurate diagnosis for your infant. The threat from ignoring acid reflux in infants is that it may evolve into further serious complications as well. An infant who comes to believe that feeding will be painful may stop breastfeeding and lose weight. Inherently serious conditions such as erosive esophagitis can also be the result of 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.
Studies done recently show the benefit of all natural holistic treatments of GERD. For instance, studies done by Ravelli, Tobanelli and Volpi which appeared in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition in 2001, showed that formula based on cow’s milk can result in delayed gastric emptying in infants with allergy to milk proteins. Studies by Rudolph, Mazur and Liptak also published in this journal indicated that changing from cow’s milk formula to a formula based in casein hydrolysate could be better for infants who vomit. And also, for infants with GERD, breastfeeding turns out to have significant advantages compared to any formula for babies, because milk from the breast is better for the digestion and gives faster digestive transit.
The conclusions above as well as many others reinforce the theory that infant GERD is not local in its manifestation (the esophagus only), but in fact that it is a bodily reaction to a set of factors that are internal, dietary and environmental. This explains why the holistic approach taken by holistic medicine which focuses on protecting your infant from gastroesophageal reflux disease can be safe and also the most effective choice in the long term.
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?