Common Signs and Symptoms of GERD in Children and Adults


According to estimations, around 60 million individuals in the United States suffer the burning, fiery symptom that we know as "heartburn" a minimum of once a month. While you may not imagine them when picturing typical heartburn sufferers, teenagers, young children, and infants are included in that statistic.

For about 20% of the population, heartburn is a symptom of a more serious condition referred to as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a disease that can significantly interfere with the health and quality of life of people who have it. Should you or a loved one experience recurring or uncomfortable symptoms associated with acid reflux, contact Digestive Health Associates of Texas to consult a gastroenterology specialist who offers treatment for GERD in Dallas, TX.

What causes GERD to develop?

At the lower end of your esophagus (where it connects with the stomach) lies a muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). When you drink or eat something, the LES relaxes to allow food/drink to move into the stomach before closing again to inhibit stomach acid from pushing back up. When this muscle fails to function properly, the acid can push up into your esophagus, producing a fiery sensation (heartburn) and possibly a sour taste in the mouth.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a condition that could occur in individuals who commonly have issues with acid reflux. Over the course of time, chronic exposure to stomach acid can cause lasting damage to the esophagus, causing substantial discomfort and an elevated chance of additional complications with your esophagus.

Though GERD is not usually caused by any particular trigger, there are an array of issues that can induce recurring acid reflux in adults and children, such as:

  • Lying down after eating
  • Consuming large meals
  • Being overweight
  • Eating high-acidity or spicy foods
  • Smoking (or exposure to secondhand smoke)

Children (especially infants) might also be more likely to develop acid reflux because their GI muscles have not fully developed.

What are the signs of GERD in children and adults?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease generally carries a lot of the same signs and symptoms as acid reflux; however, they might happen more often (a minimum of twice a week at a moderate-to-severe level). Additional signs and symptoms occur as time goes on due to persistent acid reflux. The more frequently occurring symptoms of GERD in adults are:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Choking
  • Bad breath
  • Hoarse voice or sore, raw throat
  • Regurgitation of food or sour liquid
  • Unproductive cough
  • The sensation of food stuck or a lump in the throat
  • Frequent heartburn (burning sensation in the chest)
  • Pain in the chest area

Along with those mentioned above, signs of GERD in children may involve:

  • Breathing issues, such as wheezing and/or coughing
  • Refusing to eat (in infants)
  • Trouble gaining weight
  • Frequent episodes of nausea or vomiting (after infancy)

It is particularly important to obtain treatment for GERD in kids before it develops into a concern that interferes with their development and health. In the event you or your child experience signs or symptoms that might be due to chronic acid reflux, request a visit with a Digestive Health Associates of Texas gastrointestinal physician as soon as possible to learn about your options for treating GERD.

How is GERD commonly found and treated?

Our Dallas, TX digestive health specialists might investigate your symptoms and examine your esophagus for signs of gastroesophageal reflux disease with the help of a pH probe or an endoscope device. If it is determined that you have the disease, your GI provider might advise implementing a variety of lifestyle modifications, which may include avoiding certain foods that result in acid reflux, losing excess weight, avoiding lying down after eating, or avoiding smoking.

Your gastrointestinal specialist may additionally prescribe medications to reduce acid or strengthen the LES to prevent stomach acid from regurgitating into the esophagus. In some instances, a surgical approach could be necessary to improve the connection between the esophagus and the stomach. Treatment options for GERD in children or adults may vary on an individual basis, making it vital to partner with a GI specialist to make certain you receive the proper treatment for your personal needs.

Help for GERD in adults in children

Acid reflux signs and symptoms are common, but they may be the start of larger health issues without care. The skilled gastroenterologists at Digestive Health Associates of Texas offer a range of options to treat GERD in children and adults. To hear more about what causes GERD or to find treatment for GERD in Dallas, TX, please request a consultation with our GI team.