What Causes Acid Reflux

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Each child may have different symptoms. Common symptoms of GERD include: Burping or belching Not eating Having stomach pain Being fussy around mealtimes Vomiting often Having hiccups Gagging Choking Coughing often Having coughing fits at night Other symptoms may include: Wheezing Getting colds often Getting ear infections often Having a rattling in the chest Having a sore throat in the morning Having a sour taste in the mouth Having bad breath Loss or decay of tooth enamel GERD symptoms may seem like other health problems.

Ask the Expert: Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

How is GERD diagnosed? Other tests may include: Chest X-ray.


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An X-ray can check for signs that stomach contents have moved into the lungs. This is called aspiration. Upper GI series or barium swallow. It checks the food pipe esophagus , the stomach, and the first part of the small intestine duodenum. Your child will swallow a metallic fluid called barium. Barium coats the organs so that they can be seen on an X-ray.

Then X-rays are taken to check for signs of sores or ulcers, or abnormal blockages. This test checks the inside of part of the digestive tract. It uses a small, flexible tube called an endoscope.

It has a light and a camera lens at the end. Tissue samples from inside the digestive tract may also be taken for testing.


  1. Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD).
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  5. Esophageal manometry. This test checks the strength of the esophagus muscles. It can see if your child has any problems with reflux or swallowing. Then it measures the pressure that the esophageal muscles make at rest. This test checks the pH or acid level in the esophagus. The tube has a sensor that measures pH level. During this time your child can go home and do his or her normal activities. You will need to keep a diary of any symptoms your child feels that may be linked to reflux. These include gagging or coughing. You should also keep a record of the time, type of food, and amount of food your child eats.

    Gastric emptying study. If bottle-feeding, keep the nipple filled with milk. Try different nipples. Find one that lets your baby's mouth make a good seal with the nipple during feeding. Adding rice cereal to feeding may be helpful for some babies. Burp your baby a few times during bottle-feeding or breastfeeding.

    Your child may reflux more often when burping with a full stomach. For children: Watch your child's food intake. Limit fried and fatty foods, peppermint, chocolate, drinks with caffeine such as sodas and tea, citrus fruit and juices, and tomato products. Offer your child smaller portions at mealtimes. Add small snacks between meals if your child is hungry. Let your child tell you when he or she is hungry or full.

    Gastroesophageal reflux disease

    Serve the evening meal early, at least 3 hours before bedtime. Some may irritate the lining of the stomach or esophagus. This is for safety reasons and to reduce the risk for SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths. These medicines may include: H2-blockers.

    Symptoms & Causes of GER & GERD

    These reduce the amount of acid your stomach makes by blocking the hormone histamine. Histamine helps to make acid. Proton pump inhibitors. These help keep your stomach from making acid. They do this by stopping the stomach's acid pump from working. What are the complications of GERD? Opt for small meals spread throughout the day rather than large meals, which exert pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter. If diet and behavior changes don't help, a medication may be prescribed — usually, a proton-pump inhibitor PPI.

    They all work by reducing the amount of acid made in the stomach.

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    It will take six to eight weeks before you'll know whether the drug works. If it does, the usual course of treatment is six months, followed by a slow taper of the medication. You can also try antacids, such as Tums, and H2 blockers, including ranitidine Zantac , cimetidine Tagamet , famotidine Pepcid , and nizatidine Axid , to help relieve symptoms. Disclaimer: As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

    Harvard Women's Health Watch. Published: December, E-mail Address. Occasionally, surgery to correct the problem may be needed. Read more about the symptoms of GORD. You don't necessarily need to see your GP if you only have symptoms occasionally. Ask your pharmacist for advice on treatments. Read more about diagnosing GORD. Read more about the treatments for GORD. If you have GORD for a long time, stomach acid can damage your oesophagus and cause further problems. Read more about the complications of GORD. Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease GORD is usually caused by the ring of muscle at the bottom of the oesophagus gullet becoming weakened.

    But for people with GORD, stomach acid is able to pass back up into the oesophagus. They may prescribe medication to treat it without needing to carry out any tests. Read more about treating GORD.

    Gastroesophageal Reflux in Children

    Tests can help to confirm the diagnosis of GORD, check for other possible causes of your symptoms and determine whether you may be suitable for surgery. The endoscope will be gently inserted into your mouth and down your throat. The procedure is usually carried out while you're awake, but you may be given a sedative to help you relax.

    A barium swallow, or barium meal, is a test to assess your swallowing ability and look for any blockages or abnormalities in your oesophagus. Barium is a harmless substance that shows up clearly on X-rays as it passes through your digestive system.

    Afterwards, you'll be able to eat and drink normally, although you may need to drink more water to help flush the barium out of your body. Manometry is used to assess how well the ring of muscle at the end of your oesophagus is working, by measuring the pressure in your oesophagus. The tube contains pressure sensors that can detect the pressure in the oesophagus. It may be necessary to measure the acidity level pH in your oesophagus to confirm a diagnosis of GORD if nothing is found during an endoscopy. The acidity level is measured over 24 hours, using a thin tube containing a sensor that's passed up your nose and down your oesophagus.

    This is usually connected to a recording device worn on your waist. You'll be asked to press a button on the recorder every time you become aware of your symptoms and to record your symptoms in a diary. You should eat as you normally would during the test to ensure an accurate result.