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Diagnosing GERD in Children

In order to diagnose GERD in children, the healthcare provider will ask a number of questions about current symptoms and feeding history. He or she will also perform a physical exam to look for signs and symptoms. Depending on what is found, the healthcare provider may recommend certain tests. These tests can help determine if GERD is the problem or if the child has some other condition.
 
Older children can also have GERD. When beginning treatment, they may be asked to change their diet or some parts of their lifestyle and/or to take GERD medication for a time to confirm the diagnosis.
 
(Click GERD Diagnosis for more information.)
 

Treating Children With GERD

Treatment for GERD in children also depends on the age. For young children, treatment will vary based on a number of factors, including the severity of symptoms and the age of the child. In some cases, treatment may not be necessary because reflux will often improve on its own after one to two years of age. In these cases, feeding and sleeping modifications, such as burping the infant several times during feeding or keeping the infant in an upright position for 30 minutes after feeding, may help considerably.
 
For older children, specific treatments for GERD may include:
 
Your child may be asked to avoid certain foods, including:
 
  • Sodas that contain caffeine
  • Chocolate and peppermint
  • Spicy foods like pizza
  • Acidic foods like oranges and tomatoes
  • Fried and fatty foods.
     
Avoiding food two to three hours before bed may also help. The doctor may recommend that the child sleep with his or her head raised.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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