Tuesday, July 24, 2012
9:08 PM | | Edit Post
For Part 1 of this series, click here
HOW IS GER DIAGNOSED?
HOW IS GER DIAGNOSED?
If your infant or child has any of the above symptoms and you are concerned that she may have reflux, talk with your pediatrician about having her evaluated. GER may be diagnosed by a single office visit, or a referral may be needed to a pediatric gastroenterologist for further evaluation. Your doctor or specialist will review your child's symptoms, determine if her weight gain is appropriate, and possibly order special tests. These tests may include an upper gastro-intestinal X-ray (UGI), a milk scan, a 24-hour pH probe, or an endoscopy.
My son was sent back to the NICU (ugh!) and it was there that they started to run some tests on him. He was seen by the Speech Therapist/ Feeding Specialist to see if it was his suck, swallow, and breathe. It wasn’t. I told them that he was obviously uncomfortable and I was convinced it was reflux. They don’t like to put babies on reflux meds but I really pushed them to figure out what was going on. He went in for an Upper GI (UGI) and they found that within a mili-second of him swallowing, the food came back up and down over 7 times. Thankfully, he wasn’t aspirating (where the liquid food comes back up and goes into the lungs). So it was then we got our diagnosis of “severe reflux”.
Treatment of GER varies from simply thickening formula, to medication, to surgery. Your doctor may begin with thickening the formula and suggesting that your baby be in an upright position most of the day, especially after eating. Try to hold your baby without putting pressure on her abdomen. Burp your baby frequently (every 1/2 to 1 ounce) and encourage her to suck on a pacifier between feedings. This helps to keep the esophagus in motion, pushing anything in the esophagus back into the stomach.
If an infant is in pain, has slowed or stopped eating, or has apnea or bradycardia that is caused from reflux, more aggressive management needs to be done. Medications such as Zantac or Tagamet or Prilosec that decrease or block the production of acid, and/or medications such as Propulsid or Reglan that improve digestion, may be prescribed. These medications are often used in combination with one another.
Most children will out grow GER by one year of age. As children grow, their esophagus becomes longer and the stomach naturally begins to wrap around the muscle at the top of the stomach.
My son had been put on Allimentum formula prior to his initial discharge because of suspected Milk Protein Intolerance. This seemed to help his reflux as well because often times reflux and MPI go hand in hand. I stopped pumping, which for preemie moms and preemie moms with reflux babies can be an extremely difficult decision. He was also already on a low dose of Zantac. With the new diagnosis, we were to thicken his formula with 1tsp of rice or oat cereal (alternating) per ounce of formula. He was also put on Prilosec and Maalox (as needed). He was to be kept upright most of the day. We got a GI specialist on our team and we checked in with him monthly and adjusted his medications as he gained weight. He was very important because a GI specialist will dose your baby at the highest dose as opposed to a Pediatrician who tends to be more reserved.
I wish I could say that it fixed everything immediately. It didn’t. We played with his medications and the thickened feeds to find the right balance. He lived in a Moby Wrap or his Fisher Price Rock n Play (please get one if your child has reflux, you will thank me!) or his swing or his car seat! It took months for the pain to stop when he ate but I can say that by the time he turned 1 adjusted, he was off of all of his medications and we hadn’t been thickening his food for months. My son’s reflux was one of the most difficult things that I have ever endured and it wasn’t even me with the pai
I mentioned that babies spit up. They do spit up and if you have a happy spitter then there isn’t a real reason to put them on medication for reflux. I would still talk to the pediatrician about it to let them know what is going on and to check weight gain. The medication does not STOP the reflux, it only makes it more comfortable for them.
The other thing I wanted to call attention to is something called silent reflux. It can be scary to not know that your child is refluxing. It is harder to detect because they aren’t spitting up. But here are the symptoms for silent reflux:
• poor weight gain or rapid weight gain
• gulping with a painful look on the face
• sour breath, wet sounding burps
• persistent or chronic cough
• frequent hiccups
• sudden burst of painful crying
• painful wakeups from sleep or poor sleeping habits
• poor feeding habits, possible feeding aversions
• neck or back arching during or after feeding
• excessive fussiness, crying or colic
• demands to be carried constantly
• red or salmon colored throat
• blood in the stool or spit up
These last two signs are possible indicators of Barett's Esophagus. The risk of Barett's Esophagus is slightly higher with silent reflux because there is generally more damage to the throat with silent reflux in infants, although it is still a fairly low risk.
Having a child with reflux can trigger many emotions. It is normal to feel anger, frustration, and sadness. Sometimes it helps to talk with those who can empathize with you and understand your feelings and concerns, such as other parents of children with reflux. You'll need support to make it through these difficult days. A national parent support group called PAGER (Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association, Inc.) can help you find any further assistance you might need. Their website address is http://www.reflux.org or they are located at PO Box 1153, Germantown, MD 20875-1153, (301)601-9541.
E-mail one of the Resource Blog creators and they can get you in touch with me!
(Information taken from: http://www.prematurity.org/baby/reflux-maroney.html and http://www.pollywogbaby.com/refluxandcolic/silent-reflux-infant.html )
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