Acid reflux in adults is hard enough to treat and deal with, let alone when it appears in children. Often the only signs you can work off as a parent that’s indicative of a deeper issue are irritability and vomiting. Which are signs of other possible sicknesses too. This is why it’s hard to pin down exactly how to prevent acid reflux in children.
So what causes acid reflux? Acid reflux is when there’s a backflow of acid from the stomach to the oesophagus. It’s a very common occurrence, but complications and troublesome symptoms such as heartburn can persist if not treated.
This usually happens because the lower oesophageal sphincter is damaged or weakened. As the lower oesophageal sphincter closes to prevent food in the stomach from moving up through the oesophagus, you can see why this can be a problem. (1)
When it comes to your child, you want to ensure you not only help them if they’re suffering from acid reflux but also be proactive and put things in place to help prevent this from occurring at all. In this article, you’ll learn certain lifestyle changes you can put in place to help your child get better and avoid the occurrence of acid reflux.
- Losing weight
One way to help prevent or treat acid reflux is to ensure your child stays a healthy weight. In some cases, any excess fat can contribute to the risk of acid reflux, for both children and adults. This is only to be done if necessary and as instructed and guided by your child’s healthcare provider. So take your child to the park to play when it’s safe. Exercise with them at home. Not only are you making sure they stay at a healthy weight, you’re also getting a bit of exercise in yourself.
- Eating smaller meals
Just like mums-to-be feel pain with reflux in pregnancy, shouldn’t this be also distressing when your children go through this? Again, the amount of food your child is consuming could be a factor in developing acid reflux. Ensuring your child is eating healthy and properly portioned meals can help prevent the onset of acid reflux. Eating smaller meals could also help treat the problem if your child is already suffering. Apart from eating smaller meals, changing their diet could also help mitigate their discomfort.
- Avoiding high-fat foods
It’s not just the amount of food your child is eating but the types of food as well. Food high in fat such as french fries; full-fat dairy products, including butter and milk; fatty or fried cuts of meat, bacon or ham; and desserts such as ice cream can increase the chances of acid reflux. Some fruits can also contribute to acid reflux due to their acidity levels, including, oranges, tomatoes, lemons or pineapples. (1)
- Wearing loose-fitting clothing around the stomach
Any tightness or constriction around the stomach and abdomen can contribute to worsening acid reflux. So make sure to dress your children in comfortable, loose-fitting clothes.
- Staying upright after eating
In general, your children’s posture after meals could be a factor in acid reflux. Sitting upright for at least two hours after eating allows food to digest through the system. Any bending over or lying down can cause food to sit in the stomach and move up in to the oesophagus.
- Sleeping at an elevated angle
Lying down flat to sleep can also contribute to acid reflux. Raising the head of your child’s bed between six and eight inches can help stop acid reflux from occurring and ensure your child has a good night’s sleep. You can do this by safely placing blocks under their bedposts
- Doctor-recommended treatments
If the changes you make at home don’t help, your paediatrician might recommend medicine to treat the problem. Most medications work by minimising the amount of acid in your child’s stomach.
You can get some of these medications over the counter, and others you’ll need a prescription for. Some acid reflux medications include:
- antacids you can find at most drugstores,
- proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), which lower the amount of acid the stomach makes,
- H2 blockers that decrease overall acid production, or
- prokinetics that can help the stomach to empty faster. (2)
Your child’s health always comes first
Most preventative measures to stop acid reflux are the same as the recommended home treatments. These include weight management, ensuring they’re eating the right foods and the right amount of food and working on their posture to stop any acid from rising.
Acid reflux is an uncomfortable thing to experience even for an adult, let alone a child. Make sure you keep watch over your child’s symptoms and always seek the help from a healthcare professional who understands your child’s medical history.
- “7 Foods to Add to Your Diet for Acid Reflux”, Source: https://www.healthline.com/health/gerd/diet-nutrition#_noHeaderPrefixedContent
- “Treatment for GER & GERD in Children”, Source: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/acid-reflux-ger-gerd-children/treatment
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