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Heartburn in Kids Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Heartburn is a painful and annoying disease that goes hand in hand with adults but can also occur in kids. Acid from the stomach goes up the oesophagus, the tube which connects the throat and the stomach, leading to heartburn. Unusual burning sensation in the chest area is caused due to acid reflux. Occasional heartburn is normal and can be alleviated by OTC medicines, but chronic or even severe heartburn can be an indication of GERD, so a proper disease evaluation and treatment must be done. A frequent occurrence of reflux can develop into a more serious and damage problem if not treated.

Understanding the factors that induce heartburn, recognizing symptoms, receiving proper diagnosis, and implementing effective treatments are key to resolving reflux in children and ensuring their short and long-term health.

What Triggers Heartburn in Children?

There are several potential instigators of acid reflux and heartburn in kids:

  1. Dietary Causes:
  2. This lower oesophageal sphincter of the stomach is well known to relax after some meals and therefore stomach acid can be refluxed into the oesophagus. Heartburn can result from the consumption of fried and fatty meals, processed snacks, chocolate, coffee, carbonated drinks, and rich sauces. The rest of the typical triggers are citrus fruits, tomatoes, garlic, onions, peppermint and spicy foods. The degree of reflux post-meals gets escalated when you prefer to eat large, heavy meals Instead of eating in smaller servings.

  3. Structural Factors:
  4. Many children are rendered vulnerable to acid reflux just because of the very structure of their body. Hiatal hernia is one anatomical condition when the upper lobe of the stomach protrudes diaphragm muscle to have an easy access to gastric acid into the oesophagus. The kids of obese parents may be born with a myotomy that is genetically weak and by which the lower oesophageal sphincter remains permanently open. Children do not have tough enough abdominal walls. Pressure pushing from the stomach and abdomen could push food back.

  5. Medical Conditions:
  6. Prolonged acid reflux, if not treated in time, will progress into more severe symptoms like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Due to its unusually lax state, the lower oesophageal sphincter is unable to block the acid reflux adequately. After the barrier is breached by mucosal injury, the forces attributable to reflux worsen. Through inflammation, upset stomach and overproduction of acid come from gluten or dairy protein sensitivities as well. Reflux is another listed side effect of a variety of medications included antibiotics, calcium channel blockers, painkillers, and asthma treatments.

Recognizing Heartburn Symptoms in Kids:

Heartburn can be tricky to identify in children, especially toddlers or infants who have difficulty communicating their discomfort verbally. Typical signs of reflux-related burning or indigestion include:

  • Chest ache or discomfort, commonly following a meal
  • Acidic stomach contents refluxing into the mouth to produce an acidic, bitter, or sour taste
  • Abdominal pain or a stomach-ache can occasionally be confused with constipation or gas.
  • regurgitation, dry heaving, nausea, or vomiting
  • Pain during swallowing, difficulty swallowing, or sensation as though food is stuck in the chest
  • Rough-sounding voice, a raspy cough, or worsening asthma
  • Refusing to eat or pulled away from bottle, which provides relief from discomfort
  • Unexplained crying fits, irritability, or excessive fussiness after feeding
  • Discomfort when lying down shortly after meals
  • Recurrent sinus infections or wheezing

Parents should watch for any persistent coughing, choking, or asthma flare-ups associated with meals and report them to their paediatrician. Sudden food aversion in babies, crying during or right after eating, and extreme fussiness warrant medical evaluation for potential acid reflux.

Diagnostic Testing Options for Kids with Heartburn:

If a child displays potential symptoms of chronic heartburn, the paediatrician has several diagnostic tests available to confirm it:

  • A small camera fitted on a thin tube is often used during the upper endoscopy treatment to closely check the inner lining of the stomach and oesophagus for any kind of damage or inflammation due to excessive acid.
  • The steps, which target the pH levels in the oesophagus, are the main goal of this measurement. Through the process, the entire pH levels are monitored. The pH electrodes in a catheter pass through the oesophagus to reach the lower oesophagus by using a nose. The reflux is proved by measuring the higher then usual acid levels.
  • Contrary to its name, barium swallow imaging requires ingesting a chalk-like, contrast solution. Finally, x-ray films are acquired after the child swallows, the backflow regions of the stomach and oesophagus are highlighted with such.
  • Emptying gastric studies are aimed to estimate whether the food is passing normally from the stomach or not. During a meal, all substances labelled with a traceable radioisotope are imaged at intervals from within the stomach to monitor their progress and indicate the speed of digestion. Delayed emptying exacerbates reflux.

These tests identify pathological reflux and help determine appropriate treatments. They can also uncover alternative explanations for symptoms like esophageal ulcers, cysts, or swallowing disorders if present.

Treatment Options for Heartburn in Children:

Effective therapies are available to alleviate heartburn and reflux symptoms in children once the condition is properly diagnosed:

Diet and Lifestyle Modifications:

Avoiding foods recognized to elicit reflux like citrus, chocolate, or fried fare can help diminish heartburn episodes. Smaller meal portions spaced apart allow for easier digestion. Remaining upright for two to three hours after eating gives gravity a chance to direct food downward rather than regurgitating upward. Tight clothing should be avoided. Counselling parents about obesity risks and promoting activity and nutrition to achieve healthy body weight improves reflux in overweight children.

Medications to Control Acid Production:

  • Antacids immediately neutralize stomach acid and provide quick relief, though effects are short-lived.
  • Histamine H2 blockers like Pepcid, Axid, and Zantac reduce acid production more sustainable. They are available over-the-counter or prescription strength.
  • Powerful proton pump inhibitors like Prilosec, Nexium, and Prevacid shut down acid pumps in the stomach for prolonged effectiveness. These require a prescription.
  • Prokinetic agents like Reglan optimize coordination of the digestive tract muscles to improve acid clearance and decrease reflux episodes.

While heartburn and acid reflux were once considered an adult condition, its prevalence in children is rising. Obesity, poor eating habits, anatomical susceptibility, and other factors provoke painful heartburn that can impede quality of life and nutrition. Parents should watch for telltale symptoms, especially frequent crying, fussiness, or refusal to eat after meals. Diagnostic testing can identify pathological reflux, and medical or surgical therapies provide effective relief in most cases. Prompt treatment minimizes lasting oesophageal damage. With professional care, paediatric heartburn can be overcome and healthy development restored.

For more such interesting blogs, Visit EuroKids

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