Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

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Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease GERD / Heartburn

GI for Kids is proud to offer comprehensive diagnostic testing and treatment of heartburn for infants, children, adolescents, and young adults. 

What is GERD?

  • Gastroesophageal reflux, (GERD) or “reflux”, happens when the stomach acid, food or other contents from your stomach moves back into the esophagus.
  • When the acid touches your esophagus, it can cause a burning feeling in your chest or neck, known as heartburn.
  • Most people experience heartburn occasionally, but when it becomes frequent it can disrupt your quality of life and you may seek treatment.

What are the symptoms of GERD?

Each person may not feel GERD in the same way.

  • Heartburn – a burning pain behind the chest that may move up toward the neck. It can be worse when you are lying down or bending over.
  • Feeling like food is coming back up into your mouth, maybe with a bitter taste.
  • Sore throat or pain with swallowing that won’t go away.
  • Hoarseness (scratchy-sounding voice).
  • Cough that won’t go away.
  • Asthma or chronic sinus infection
  • Chest pain.
  • Feeling like there is a lump in your throat.
  • Feeling as though food sticks in the throat when going down.
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Frequent burping or throat clearing.

What are the causes of GERD?

Many things can cause GERD and it frequently runs in families.

  • Overweight.
  • Smoking.
  • Alcohol.
  • Eating too quickly or eating too much.
  • Weakness in the lower esophageal sphincter.
  • Hiatal Hernia.

How do we test for GERD? 

There are several tests for GERD but not all patients with heartburn or GERD need testing. Your physician may recommend one or more of the following tests. For more information about these procedures 

  • Upper Endoscopy (EGD)
  • Esophageal Manometry
  • Bravo™
  • Upper GI Series
  • Endo-FLIP™

How do we treat GERD?

GI for Kids is proud to offer comprehensive heartburn and GERD treatments.

For most people, treatment for heartburn starts with over-the-counter medications such as antiacids.  For ongoing symptoms your gastroenterologist may recommend additional treatments.

  • Diet
    • Speak with the GI dietician about foods that impact GERD.
    • Avoid foods that worsen symptoms.
    • Avoiding eating within 3 hours of your bedtime.
  • Lifestyle
    • Sleeping on your left side.
    • Sleeping with elevated mattress.
    • If your BMI is >30 consider losing some weight.
    • If your BMI is >35 you may be asked to lose weight prior to consideration for anti-reflux surgery.
  • Medications
    • Antacids (Tums, Alka-Seltzer, Rolaids etc)
    • H2 Receptor Blockers (famotidine, cimetidine)
    • Proton Pump Inhibitors (pantoprazole, omeprazole, lansoprazole, esomeprazole, rabeprazole, dexlansoprazole)
  • Anti-reflux procedure / surgery
    • Indicated for moderate to severe GERD and/or for patients who desire to discontinue reflux medication. Age and weight restrictions.
    • Minimally invasive Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication (TIF or cTIF)
    • Surgical repair of hiatal hernia
    • Nissen fundoplication
  • Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication (TIF, cTIF) is an advanced endoscopic procedure that is provided by Dr. Conrad Cox & Dr. David DeVoid. Learn more about TIF on our procedures page.

Changes specific for infants and children:

  • Infants:
    • Elevate the head of the baby’s crib or bassinet
    • Hold your baby upright for 30 minutes after feeding
    • Thicken bottle feedings
    • Evaluation for milk protein allergy
    • Evaluation for tongue/lip tie or poor latch
  • Children:
    • Elevate the headboard
    • Keep child upright for at least 2-3 hrs after eating
    • Avoid overeating and eating too quickly
    • Encourage child to get regular exercise
    • Avoid non-steroidal anti-inflammatory or aspirin-containing medications.

Complications of untreated GERD in adolescents and adults:

  • Esophagitis.
  • Stricture.
  • Problems breathing.
  • Barrett’s esophagus.
  • Alarm Symptoms:
    • Certain alarm symptoms may be concerning serious conditions other than GERD. Talk with your physician if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.
    • Chest pain with activity, such as climbing stairs.
    • Losing weight without trying.
    • Choking while eating or trouble swallowing food and liquids.
    • Throwing up blood or material that looks like coffee grounds.
    • Red or black stools.

Conrad B. Cox, MD