Under the term reflux, medical professionals understand the return of the stomach contents to the esophagus. In infancy, almost all children are occasionally affected by reflux. Like a disease, the return of the stomach content is classified only when the child suffers under and under the consequences.
What exactly is reflux?
The term reflux comes from the Latin and means as much as “backflow.” If gastric contents flow back into the esophagus, reflux – or, more precisely, gastro-oesophageal reflux – occurs. Gaster is the medical term for stomach and esophagus stands for the esophagus.
Since the gastric contents are quite sour, the esophagus, the teeth (in older children) and the oral cavity can be affected by the frequent occurrence of this phenomenon, resulting in sequelae. Sauer is the stomach content due to the stomach acid that he needs for digestion. If the stomach content rises all the way up, the child spits or vomits. The fact that an occasional backflow of the stomach contents in infants is quite normal shows the spitting cloth belonging to a typical baby equipment.
As a rule, there is no reflux of the gastric contents in the esophagus. At the transition between the stomach and the esophagus, a muscle fiber band is found, and the gastric inlet is tightly closed so that reflux is not possible. Also, the pressure in the thoracic and esophagus is quite high, which also prevents reflux.
A reflux between the stomach and the esophagus occurs in children who are breastfed as well as in children who are fed by bottle. In children who are fed with the bottle, there is even more frequent reflux. The artificial baby food is harder to digest, remains longer in the stomach, and there are often larger amounts fed per meal.
There are different types of reflux
There are different types of reflux. In infants, for example, a so-called functional reflux of the stomach contents can occur. Especially in infants, the muscle band, which closes the gastric inlet, relaxes and the stomach contents flow back. This is the typical spitting observed in many infants. In premature infantsChildren, this phenomenon occurs more frequently than in mature newborns. Functional reflux also occurs through the anatomy of infants. In many children, the angle between esophagus and stomach is still very small. The milk can, therefore, flow back relatively easily. As the age grows, this problem decreases and usually disappears completely. The children grow, and the angle between esophagus and stomach becomes greater. Also, a genetic predisposition for the occurrence of the reflux is presumed.
A pathological reflux or reflux disease is the case when the reflux occurs so frequently and strongly that further symptoms occur in the children. This phenomenon is observed, among other things, in children who drink quickly and hastily, and even in the case of a very strong milk donor inflection of the mother, this problem can occur more frequently. If the child is fed with the bottle, a too large hole in the teat can aggravate the discomfort.
A secondary reflux occurs when it is caused by another disease. Neurological disorders may lead to a reflux between the stomach and the esophagus. Also, pulmonary diseases can lead to the increased occurrence of reflux disease. If the baby breathes, the pressure in the chest decreases and the milk flows back. In some children, a so-called diaphragmatic hernia (also known as a hiatus hernia) may be present. Then there are parts of the stomach as well as the esophagus in the chest, and there is no longer a natural barrier.
The reflux of the gastric contents into the esophagus can lead to inflammation in the long term. Unlike the stomach, the esophagus is not made for high acid concentrations. If there is a regular reflux, then ignites the tissue of the esophagus, heartburn and pain occur. To prevent scarring, permanent bleeding, and ulcers, or a loss of blood, the inflammation must be treated. With an occasional reflux – as it occurs in most infants – parents do not need to worry.
When do I have to go to the doctor with my baby?
Consult your doctor or your midwife for a reflux disorder if:
- your baby regularly vomits
- Your baby often coughs after feeding
- more than five times a day milk
- Your child often cries after breastfeeding
If your child has problems with the reflux of the milk, keep it in an upright position 20 minutes after feeding. Give your child smaller meals and feed it more frequently.
Immediately consult your doctor if:
- You will find blood in vomit
- Your child has swallowing problems
- Your baby does not increase in weight or refuses to eat
- Your child often coughs and has infections in the chest
- Your child will become anemic
- Your baby cries very much and looks unhappy overall
If you experience any of these symptoms and are concerned, ask your pediatrician for advice. Occasional backflow of gastric contents into the esophagus is, however, normal in infants.
What can I do against milk reflux?
Reflux disease must be treated according to the cause. If another disease is responsible for milk reflux, it must be treated. Otherwise, there is the possibility of feeding the food for the child something and the little bit at the head slightly higher. Medicines for over-acidification and binding agents can also be given. However, any treatment should only be done in consultation with the pediatrician. The medication is mostly prescription.
Reflux at a glance:
- occasional backflow of milk into the esophagus and associated spitting is quite reasonable
- go to the doctor with your child if the symptoms occur frequently and strongly
- bend the reflux by keeping your child upright for some time after feeding
- with increasing age, this phenomenon occurs less often