Are the Signs of GERD Different in Children and Adults?

By: TDDC Team


One of the most common conditions people may experience at some point during their lives is acid reflux. A typical symptom of this condition is heartburn, which is a burning pain in the chest that can worsen after a meal or when lying down. Sporadic acid reflux and heartburn are typically no big deal, but for those noticing issues regularly (more often than two times a week), a more severe condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) could be impacting their health.

Based on research, it's estimated that close to 20 percent of Americans are presently experiencing GERD. This chronic digestive disease could lead to more concerning health problems without proper care. If you experience frequent heartburn or acid reflux, schedule a visit at Texas Digestive Disease Consultants to learn how you can soothe this condition. Our board-certified gastroenterologists commonly treat GERD in children and adults throughout the DFW area.

What is gastroesophageal reflux disease?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a disorder of the gastrointestinal (GI) system in which stomach acid surges back up into the esophagus. When the digestive tract is in good shape, the lower esophageal sphincter (LED), a circular muscle that divides the esophagus and the stomach, acts as a valve, enabling food to travel to the stomach. The LES also helps to keep the contents of the stomach from regurgitating into the esophagus. If the LES fails to function properly, acid reflux, heartburn, and additional symptoms can develop. GERD is characterized as long-term or chronic acid reflux, regularly repeating over two times a week. Individuals of all ages, including young children, can be diagnosed with GERD. When it's not treated, GERD can lead to inflammation of the esophagus. This could cause the buildup of scar tissue, esophageal ulcers, or other concerns, and may increase the risk of esophageal cancer.

What might cause GERD?

GERD is brought on by an improperly functioning lower esophageal sphincter. Though the distinct instigator of LES dysfunction can be unknown, there are a number of conditions that can elevate the chance of LES laxity and of developing GERD. These conditions are:

  • Obesity
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Being pregnant
  • Scleroderma (or different connective tissue illnesses)

Some lifestyle habits, such as using cigarettes or other tobacco products, could also contribute to heartburn and other GERD symptoms. Several medications may increase the risk of GERD or enhance its symptoms, including sedatives, calcium channel antagonists, certain asthma medications, and SSRIs.

What are the signs of GERD in adults?

The most prominent sign of GERD is chronic heartburn. If find yourself needing to use store-bought antacids more than two weeks a week, GERD may be impacting your health. However, GERD may still be present even in the absence of heartburn. The signs and symptoms of GERD, as well as the more subtle GERD symptoms that occur outside of the chest, often include:

  • Feeling a lump in the throat
  • Dental decay
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Postnasal drip
  • Halitosis
  • Nausea
  • Asthma
  • Chronic cough

What are some of the signs of GERD in young children?

Since GERD may affect any individual at any period of life, it's important to note any symptoms when they develop, especially in kids. Common signs and symptoms of GERD in infants and young children are:

  • Resisting meal times
  • Wheezing
  • Swallowing problems
  • Recurring regurgitation
  • Persistent coughing
  • Arching the back during or immediately after meals
  • Nausea
  • Lacking weight gain or losing weight

When your child has been exhibiting any of these concerns, talk to a GI doctor at Texas Digestive Disease Consultants to learn if GERD is the cause and to explore treatment options.

Find relief from GERD in DFW

If indigestion or other signs of GERD are impacting your quality of life, it may be time to schedule a visit at Texas Digestive Disease Consultants. Our board-certified gastroenterologists are dedicated to helping people learn about and manage their gastrointestinal wellness while upholding the utmost clinical standards. Contact our GI physicians in DFW today to schedule a consultation and learn more.