Q: My normally happy baby is crying and quite fussy lately and I’ve had a friend suggest to me that she may be suffering from reflux. What is that?
Gastro-oesophageal reflux, also known as acid reflux and acid indigestion, is the baby equivalent of heartburn. As the immature lower oesophageal sphincter valve at the top of a baby’s stomach is unreliable, it allows acidic fluid from the stomach to regurgitate back into the oesophagus, causing heartburn and other potential problems.
Symptoms of reflux include vomiting (can be projectile), erratic feeding (refusing feeds or constantly feeding), fussing after eating, excessive drooling, wet hiccups or wet burps, throaty noises, sour breath, constant swallowing and poor weight gain.
These symptoms usually emerge at two to four weeks of age, peak at four months and start to subside from seven months onwards (though it can continue into childhood and even adulthood).
Reflux can get misdiagnosed as colic, cow’s milk protein allergy or lactose intolerance.
If your baby’s reflux symptoms are severe and are interfering with their growth development or causing respiration problems, seek professional advice to rule out gastro-oesophageal reflux disease.
Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease is typically diagnosed from bloody vomits (from the ulcerated oesophagus) and can be nasty and awfully unpleasant for the infant—who will be letting you know that, in no uncertain terms!
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Any advice given is general in nature and is not intended as a substitute for medical advice and must not be relied upon as such. For any healthcare advice, always consult a healthcare practitioner.