Gastroesophageal Reflux (GE Reflux)
Also known as: GER, GE reflux
What is gastroesophageal reflux?
When digestive acids from the stomach back up or reflux back up the food pipe (esophagus) causing heartburn (acid reflux) it's called gastroesophageal reflux.
Reflux commonly occurs in healthy infants and children. Recurrent heartburn can irritate the food pipe, this complications of reflux is called gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.
What causes gastroesophageal reflux?
In infants, reflux occurs because the ring of muscles separating the stomach from the esophagus doesn’t close all the way because the mechanism is immature; in older children it occurs when the muscles relax or when pressure builds up in the stomach. Reflux can be exacerbated by the position of the infant /child’s body after a meal, the size of the meal and whether the foods eaten are irritants or weaken the muscles.
What are the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux?
Often there are no symptoms. Infants may be fussy/crying during feeding or afterwards, they may have recurrent cough, may wheeze and/or have episodes of pneumonia. Older children complain primarily of a burning sensation in the chest (heartburn), belly pain, trouble swallowing, sore throat, coughing or vomiting.
What are gastroesophageal reflux care options?
Infants frequently grow out of GER by 1 year of life; however to manage GER, feeds may be thickened, the baby may be held upright after feeding and if necessary medications may be prescribed.
Older children might benefit having smaller meals more often, regular exercise, losing weight, diet modification, not lying down after a meal and/or using several medications which are available to treat gastroesophageal reflux.
Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP
This page was last updated on: March 11, 2020 03:46 PM
Learn more about
Feeding Disorders or Difficulties
The terms feeding disorders or feeding difficulties are frequently used to refer to infants and children who have problems with eating enough and/or an appropriate variety of foods.
Esophageal Impedance-pH Study
An esophageal pH-impedance study is a test performed in the esophagus that helps to diagnose acid and non-acid reflux.
Esophageal manometry is a test of the function of the nerves and muscles of the esophagus. It’s used for people who have trouble swallowing, heartburn or chest pain.
BRAVO esophageal pH test is a test performed to determine if a patient has acid reflux. In order to conduct the test, doctors need to attach a small capsule with a sensor to the wall of the esophagus. This procedure is known as BRAVO placement.
Gastric Emptying Study
The test measures the amount of time it takes for food to leave the stomach and enter the small intestine.