Acid Reflux in Teenagers - Recognize

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Acid Reflux in Teenagers - Recognize the Symptoms!



When most people think of acid reflux, or heartburn, we tend to associate it with older adults, overweight people, or pregnant women. While it is common in these groups, chronic acid reflux or GERD (gastroesophageal

reflux disease) is also occurring more frequently in teenagers. While eating the wrong foods can exacerbate the problem, even healthy teenagers can have this disease.

What is Acid Reflux in Teenagers?

This occurs when food from the stomach backs up into the esophagus, the pipe that food travels down leading from the mouth to the stomach. In most cases, acid reflux results when a muscle called the lower esophageal

sphincter, or LES, doesn't perform its job properly. The LES is designed to relax to allow food traveling through the esophagus to enter the stomach. Once food is in the stomach, the LES is supposed to close so that

stomach contents can't wash back up the esophagus. When the LES doesn't close completely or opens when it shouldn't, acid reflux is the result.

Acid reflux in teenagers isn't always associated with GERD. It's normal for just about everyone to experience heartburn on occasion, especially when we've eaten too much. Sometimes a distended and overly full stomach

won't allow the LES to close properly. But in teenagers that occurs frequently for up to a few hours, and that is typically worse after eating, may be a sign of GERD.

Treating this chronic ailment in teenagers is important, because over time, repeated episodes can seriously damage the esophagus. This can lead to painful irritation and inflammation of the esophagus. GERD that remains

untreated over a long period of time can even lead to cancer later on.

How is Acid Reflux in Teenagers Diagnosed?

Diagnosis in teenagers typically begins with an examination of symptoms. Teenagers who commonly experience the following symptoms may have acid reflux disease:

 •Bad breath and the need of a bad breath cure
•Dry, unproductive cough
•Sore throat and hoarseness
•Sour or acid taste in the mouth
•Frequent regurgitation, or burping up food
•Difficulty swallowing
•A sense that food is caught in the throat
• A choking feeling that may wake one from sleep

If a teen experiences one or more of these symptoms frequently, a doctor may perform the following diagnostic tests:

Barium swallow radiograph - This is a kind of X-ray that shows whether or not liquid is backing up into the esophagus, and whether or not the esophagus is irritated or inflamed. This involves drinking a barium-

containing liquid that will show up on the X-ray.

Upper endoscopy - This involves using a tube with a tiny camera on it to visualize the stomach, esophagus, and some of the small intestines.

How is Acid Reflux Treated?

Teenagers can be treated using lifestyle approaches, over-the-counter medicines, or prescription medicines. Teenagers should avoid foods that exacerbate the problem. Some common trigger foods include fatty foods,

citrus foods, chocolate, food containing caffeine, spicy foods, tomato sauces, and garlic and onions.

Other ways include smoking cessation, avoiding alcohol, and weight loss in those who are overweight. Eating small meals and wearing loose clothing can also help prevent acid reflux by relieving pressure on the LES that

may cause it to malfunction. Over the counter antacids may help relieve symptoms when well-controlled GERD results in the occasional bout of reflux.

If you think your teenager is suffering from acid reflux, see your family physician. Doctors may prescribe or advise that you buy over the counter H2 blockers that can help decrease the production of stomach acid.

In moderate to severe cases, doctors may prescribe a group of medicines call proton pump inhibitors. Surgery is a last resort, and is rarely recommended for acid reflux in teenagers.


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