Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a disorder that results from food and stomach acid backing up into the esophagus from the stomach. GERD is different from gastroesophageal reflux (GER). GER is a common disorder seen in infants, which causes them to spit up. Most infants outgrow GER within 12 months.
GERD can occur at any age and typically requires lifestyle changes, medications, and sometimes surgery. This condition can cause serious health issues. The sooner it is treated, the better the outcome.
Food travels down the esophagus to the stomach. The opening between the esophagus and stomach opens to let food enter the stomach. Normally, it closes as soon as the food enters the stomach. With heartburn, the opening does not close tightly. Stomach acid flows into the esophagus (called acid reflux), causing a burning sensation.
The following factors contribute to GERD:
Abnormal pressure to the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a valve that keeps food in the stomach
Increased relaxation of LES
Increased pressure within the abdomen
Possibly a genetic link
Other causes include diseases that interfere with food passing through the esophagus or cause excess acid production.
Unlike infants and children, there are not many known risk factors for the development of GERD among adolescents.
, a risk factor for adults, may also increase the risk of developing this condition among teenagers.
may also put teens at risk.
If your teen has any of these symptoms, do not assume it is due to GERD. These symptoms may be caused by other conditions. If your child has any of these, tell the doctor:
Dental problems (due to the effect of the stomach acid on the tooth's enamel)
Your doctor will ask about your teen’s symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. Your child may need to see a gastroenterologist, a doctor who specializes in gastrointestinal diseases.
Many of these are over-the-counter medications. Talk to your teen's doctor about any new medication.
In severe cases, the doctor may recommend surgery. The most common treatment is called
. During this procedure, the surgeon wraps part of the stomach around the lower esophageal sphincter. This makes the sphincter stronger and prevents stomach acid from backing up into the esophagus.
While some of the causes of GERD in adolescents are unknown, your teen can take these steps to control the condition:
Following the doctor's dietary and lifestyle changes
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a