Know the Signs of GERD in Adults and Children


An estimated 60 million people in the U.S. endure the fiery, burning sensation that we know as "heartburn" a minimum of once each month. While the general public may not imagine them when picturing classic heartburn patients, teenagers, young children, and babies are among those included in that estimate.

In approximately 20% of people, having heartburn indicates a more serious disease referred to as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), a disease that can significantly interfere with the health and quality of life of those who live with it. If you or a family member suffer from persistent or uncomfortable symptoms associated with acid reflux, reach out to Texas Digestive Disease Consultants to connect with a gastroenterologist who provides GERD treatment in DFW.

What causes GERD to occur?

Positioned at the bottom of your esophagus (where it connects with the stomach) is a muscular valve named the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Whenever you consume food or liquids, the LES opens to allow food/drink to move into the stomach before closing again to block stomach acid from pushing backward. When this muscle fails to function properly, the acid can regurgitate into the esophagus, causing a burning feeling (heartburn) and possibly a sour taste in the mouth.

GERD is a condition that may arise in patients who commonly have issues with acid reflux. Over the course of time, repetitive regurgitation of stomach acid can lead to long-term damage to the esophagus, causing substantial discomfort and a higher chance of additional complications concerning your esophagus.

Though GERD is not usually caused by any single component, there are a number of factors that might lead to persistent acid reflux in adults and children. These include:

  • Consuming large meals
  • Consuming spicy or high-acidity foods
  • Lying flat after eating
  • Smoking (or being exposed to secondhand smoke)
  • Obesity

Younger patients (especially babies) could also be more prone to acid reflux for the mere fact that their digestive muscles have not completely developed.

What are common signs and symptoms of GERD in children and adults?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease generally presents with many of the same symptoms as acid reflux, but they may occur more frequently (at least twice a week at moderate-to-severe intensity). Other symptoms manifest as time goes on due to repeated acid reflux. Some of the most common symptoms of GERD in adults include:

  • Chest pain
  • Trouble swallowing
  • A sensation of a lump of food stuck in the throat
  • Choking
  • Unpleasant breath
  • Dry cough
  • Frequent burning sensation in the chest (heartburn)
  • Regurgitation of sour liquid or food
  • Hoarse voice or sore, raw throat

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

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

It is imperative to obtain treatment for GERD in kids before it becomes a concern that affects their development and health. Should you or your child experience symptoms that could be associated with ongoing acid reflux, request an appointment with a Texas Digestive Disease Consultants GI specialist as soon as you can to explore your options for GERD treatment.

How is GERD typically diagnosed and treated?

Our DFW gastrointestinal physicians may investigate your symptoms and examine your esophagus for markers of gastroesophageal reflux disease with a pH probe or an endoscope device. In the event you are diagnosed with the condition, your gastroenterologist might recommend certain lifestyle modifications, which may involve avoiding certain foods known to result in acid reflux, losing weight, avoiding lying down after eating, or quitting smoking.

Your GI provider might also advise taking medications to decrease acid production or strengthen the LES to keep stomach acid from flowing back into the esophagus. In some instances, a surgical procedure may be needed to enhance the connection between the esophagus and the stomach. Treatment for GERD in kids or adults might vary on a case-by-case basis, so it's crucial to see a digestive health specialist to make certain you get the best possible treatment for your condition.

Find help for GERD in adults in children

Acid reflux signs and symptoms are common, but they can be the start of much a larger health issue without treatment. The experienced gastroenterologists at Texas Digestive Disease Consultants are pleased to offer a variety of methods to treat GERD in children and adults. To find out more about the causes of GERD or to find GERD treatment in DFW, please request a consultation with one of our GI specialists.