What is acid Reflux
The entrance to the stomach attached to the oesophagus holds a muscle/valve which is called the Lower oesophageal sphincter,(LOS) Ideally the LOS is closes as soon as food passes through it. If the LOS does not close properly, or if it opens too often, as seen in infants with an immature structure, then acid produced by the stomach can move freely up into the oesophagus/gullet. This can cause symptoms such as a burning chest pain and discomfort.
It is said that reflux mainly starts at six weeks old and peaks at four months. Reflux that persists and needs medication is known as GORD. GORD can continue right into the toddler stage of development and may need ongoing medical care and investigations.’’
Children with GORD may also have oesophageal symptoms such as anaemia and dysphasia, respiratory symptoms such as cough, wheeze and asthma, or reactive airways disease and other symptoms such as sleeping difficulties and dental erosion.
Signs of reflux in Infants
Babies who repeatedly produce projectile vomit are easier to diagnose with reflux, as it is obviously more visible. Weight loss is also an indicator in some cases and it is commonly how most professionals record how the reflux is affecting the baby. Most babies with silent reflux (SR) do not fall under this category as they do not lose the contents of their feed through projectile vomiting and the vital calories for weight gain are not lost. Not losing calories sometimes results in a slower diagnosis of the disease, as these babies are seen to be gaining weight; they are classed as “thriving.”
Other signs include excessive crying or irritability during or after feeding or regurgitation and choking or blue spells. From my own experience, I found that my baby would seem extremely hungry but as soon as she would feed, within seconds, she would smack the bottle from my hand and then try to feed again.
This would go on for the entire duration of her feeding time. I now know that the acid burn was obviously making drinking impossible for her. I also remember at one stage for a month or two, she looked like she was drowning while I fed her. This was so frightening to watch and I dreaded every single feed.
My baby would also back arch in my arms and claw at my chest and face, her arms would also fly outwards as if she had been frightened or startled. When she was two months old, I remember thinking she had started teething at a very young age. She had excessive drool and would eat her hands constantly. This however is a huge symptom of reflux as the acid burn at the back of the throat can cause this behaviour. By means of hand chewing, the baby tries to reach the back of the throat to soothe the burn. As my baby got older she would shove her whole fist down her throat while screaming.
Also a baby with uncontrolled reflux will feed voraciously. This again is their means of easing the “burn”. It often results in over feeding which in turn, will cause the reflux to worsen as there is even more milk to reflux into the oesophagus.
Sleeping patterns can be extremely poor for a lot of reflux babies. My baby would wake up numerous times at night for long periods of time. I personally find broken sleep a killer. Your day seems to pass by in a blurry haze. Concentration is lost and you feel like an emotional wreck you feel drained with horrible brain fog, for me, sleep deprivation is my Kryptonite.
In my experience, I have found that many medical professionals feel if a baby is thriving and gaining weight there is no cause for concern. I remember the comments about her during this stage and how people said she was a “fine big healthy child!” I now recoil when I hear the term “thriving.”
Excessive hiccups are another significant symptom of reflux, especially wet ones. I now know when my baby has an episode as her eyes go red; she stops in her tracks and then (depending on the force) liquid can come from her nose.
Another small sign of reflux is a scent of a baby’s breath; it can be noticeable and sour smelling. Many babies with reflux will have significant wind issues; this will make colic for them ten times worse. I found probiotics brilliant for this, but if your baby has intolerances to dairy choose one without. There are many different brands on the market which cater for allergies.