Acid Reflux in Children: Know the Symptoms

Acid Reflux in Children: Know the Symptoms

| |  Pediatric Infectious Disease Medicine

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At first I thought it was the flu. My seven year old son, began throwing up in the middle of the night. He complained of stomach pain and vomited several times within a few hours. However, he didn't run a fever and he was fine by the time he had to go to school. I convinced myself it must have been something he ate.

The next month, the same thing happened. After laying down at night, he began vomiting. He was complaining of stomach pain. But he was fine the next morning. Once he was done vomiting, he was absolutely fine. I kept thinking it was something that didn't agree with him.

However, the vomitting started happening more frequently. He began complaining of stomach pain more often too. The vomiting was happening at least once a week, and always at night. He would miss school, and be very pale looking. But the weird thing was, was that as soon as the vomiting stopped, his color would come back and he'd be running around playing. I didn't make sense to me. How could he go from being so weak and sick, to jumping on the trampoline an hour later?

I tried to find a probable cause by researching online. I searched the symptoms he was having, but didn't get any definite results. In the town that I live, we aren't known for having very reliable doctors. It's been my experience that you have to have some idea of what's wrong with you before you even step into the doctor's office. I was trying to have some kind of idea what I needed to say when we went in. I was terrified he had a tumor growing inside of him. I was very afraid, but made the appointment to have him see his Pediatrician the same day I called.

If you've ever taken a child to the doctor when they're sick, you know that something magical happens when you walk into that office. Somehow, all their symptoms disappear. They're smiling, laughing, have energy to burn, and look like they have no business whatsoever in the sick clinic. That's how my son was that day. I always imagine that the doctor is doubting everything I say when I explain his symptoms. Looking at his smiling face, it's difficult to believe he was retching his heart out just a few hours ago.

After a quick look over, the doctor, (No wait. It wasn't a doctor. It was a Physician's Assistant. We hardly ever see actual doctor's in this town) So, the Physicians Assistant pronounces that he has Acid Reflux. The idea seemed ludicrous to me. Acid Reflux? In a seven year old? The diagnosis seemed too simple, I was afraid she was wrong and insisted we run tests to rule out anything more serious. This is my baby. My little boy. I am not taking any chances.

So my poor Dillon endured blood tests, x-rays, and even an Upper GI. I was fearful of him having to go through an Upper GI. In my mind, I imagined them having to put him to sleep and shoving tubes down his throat. However, that wasn't what they did at all. Aside from having to drink Barium, the procedure was very simple. But the Barium... you wouldn't wish that on your worst enemy.

The day of the Upper GI, I kept him out of school. Seeing his little, tiny, body in a hospital gown almost brought me to tears. Watching him try to be strong and try not to show the nurse & Doctor how afraid he was, also made my eyes tear up. This is the same little boy that cannot stand the taste of liquid Tylenol, and here he is with a full cup of Barium in his hand. He was shaking, but smiling. The Doctor explained what they would do, and coaxed him into drinking the horrible smelling Barium. The Barium would illuminate inside of his body so that the doctor's could see what happened to the Barium once it was inside of him.

As Dillon stood in front of an x-ray board, he drank the Barium. I watched from behind the Doctor as it was happening, and could see a screen that displayed an x-ray view of his body. I could see the Barium go into his mouth, travel down his throat, and into body parts I couldn't identify. It was amazing technology. As Dillon slowly drank the Barium, the doctor snapped still photos from a computer. I was told that these images will help identify any conditions he may have like an ulcer, tumor, hernia, scarring, blockage, or anything abnormal within the gastrointestinal tissue.

After the standing pictures were complete, Dillon had to lay down on a different table as they snapped more x-rays from above. Again, I could see the images on the screen. It was amazing to watch the liquid move from one location to another. The Doctor had Dillon roll over several times on the table. Poor Dillon continued spinning even after the doctor momentarily stepped out of the room! No one had bothered to tell him to stop. We had a quick giggle about that.

Once they were done getting x-ray pictures from all angles, he then had to go across the hall to receive regular x-ray photos. All I could think of was the radiation he was being exposed to. I was given a heavy apron to shield me from the radiation. The x-ray tech, Doctor, and nurses also wore one. But my little boy, only 62 pounds heavy, was exposed to it the entire time.

I was very relieved to learn that Dillon doesn't have a tumor, or an ulcer, or any ailment aside from Acid Reflux. I said a prayer of thanks after hearing that, because I know that not all children (and parents) are lucky enough to get good news like that, and I was so relieved and grateful.

We were lucky. Dillon was given a prescription for Prevacid Solu-Tabs. These are strawberry flavored tabs that dissolve right inside the mouth. Dillon is too young to swallow pills, so fortunately this option was available. I am very happy to say that since taking his medication, Dillon hasn't had one single episode of vomiting or stomach pain.

If you think that your child may be suffering from Acid Reflux, you may want to look for these symptoms. These are the symptoms listed on "About:"

  • Abdominal pain above the belly button
  • Chest pain
  • Burning sensation in the esophagus
  • Extreme pickiness about foods or refusing food
  • Eating only a few bites despite hunger
  • Gagging or choking
  • Poor weight gain or weight loss
  • Bad breath
  • Constantly runny nose
  • Frequent sore throat
  • Sinus infections
  • Respiratory problems (such as bronchitis, wheezing, asthma)
  • Nighttime cough
  • Nagging dry cough
  • Hoarseness
  • Poor sleep, frequent waking
  • Frequent ear infections and/or ear congestion
  • Excessive salivation or drooling
  • Intolerant of pressure on the stomach

My son didn't exhibit most of the symptoms listed. He complained of stomach pain, didn't sleep well, and vomited a lot at night. However, all the symptoms listed should be considered when your child's health is at stake.

Acid Reflux is what happens when stomach contents back up into the esophagus. Aside from having to take the medication, my son also has to watch his diet. Childhood is when you're supposed to be able to eat whatever you want, but now, Dillon is on what I call " The Old Man Diet ". He can't have caffeine, fatty or fried food, chocolate, or anything spicy. My son LOVES chocolate, so once we got his reflux under control, I occasionally allow him to have it. And he's been fine. When he begs for food he can't have, I remind him of the Barium. That's all it takes. The Barium snaps him right back into reality, and he settles for Starburst or Skittles every time

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