CHILDREN’S HEALTH – Acid Reflux in Infants

acid reflux in infants

The lower end of the oesophagus is protected by a valve called the Lower esophageal sphincter (LES). This valve opens to allow food from the oesophagus into the stomach and then closes up to protect the oesophagus from the acid content of the stomach. Several conditions can compromise this valve, allowing gastric content into the oesophagus. As in adults, infant reflux can also occur in infants. This is mainly attributed to the fact that infants consume essentially liquid and soft foods, which tend to be rich in dairy proteins. The most unfortunate part of acid reflux in infants is that unlike in adults, it is very difficult to determine if infant reflux has developed into chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease. Acid reflux in infants is most unlikely to be able to complain of heartburn or any symptoms of the disease.

Acid reflux in infants is always as a result of a lot of factors, however, most of the causative factors tend to be aggravated by the fact that infant reflux, spend a great deal of their days lying on their back or in a supine position and consume mostly liquid food. The tendency for liquid food to cause regurgitation, when combined with the pressure lying in a supine position exerts on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) constitutes a greater risk of acid reflux in infants. The incidence, however, could also be attributed to some other factors like, the anatomy of the infant’s stomach, improper or incomplete development of the lower esophageal sphincter during foetal growth, poor diet, overweight, food allergies and a host of other factors.

Because infants, unlike adults, cannot complain of symptoms or explain how they feel, it is always very difficult to know when infant reflux occurs. The best bet is to consult a healthcare professional for advice. In our practice, we consult on the diet/nutrition of baby and mother as well as use homeopaths. Nevertheless, there are signs and clues that you may look out for in your infant that could suggest the presence of imbalances. Some of these clues are:

– Sleeping problems

– Coughing

– Weight loss 

– Lack of appetite 

– Spitting up frequently 

– Apnoea

– Unusual irritability

– Chest pain

– Sore throat 

– Bad breath

– Crying

Acid reflux in infants can also cause respiratory problems including pneumonia, strictures and ulcerations on the esophageal wall, and malnourishment. Although, these signs don’t always mean your infant is suffering from infant reflux, but they constitute a good enough reason to go see your health care professional

Of course, there are a few things you could do to help your child avoid infant reflux. Simple things like changing the child’s food, keeping him/her upright for some time, especially after eating, keeping an eye on the child for any sign of chest pain or heartburn and a host of others such as taking a homeopath to help the GI terrain and digestion This extra attention could be all your child really needs to help them maintain their health. In my practice, I often use homeopaths with infants because they are safe, gentle, and effective. We often use complex homeopathic remedies that are supportive to the digestive process. Interested in learning more, book a consult with our qualified healthcare professional. 

A quick reference guides for reflux:

These are referenced by Dr Dana Ullman from Homeopathic Family Medicine. These homeopaths can all be sourced from our practice or through your local healthfood store. 

REMEDIES LISTED IN CAPITAL LETTERS REPRESENT MORE FREQUENTLY INDICATED REMEDIES

Digestive problems in infants and children could be very routine or potentially dangerou if the cause is unknown. It is highly encouraged to seek healthcare advice and attention to understand the root causes of symptoms. Remember symptoms are the body’s way of telling you something is not balanced. 

Aconitum: Digestive problems that occur during very hot weather, especially after drinking ice drinks, may benefit from this remedy. The abdomen is sensitive to touch. These children experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Aethusa: When children are unable to digest milk, leading to colic, diarrhea, and nausea and vomiting, this is a medicine to consider giving. They regurgitate the milk and other food within one hour of eating or drinking, sometimes with violent or projectile vomiting. The vomitus usually contains yellow or green curds. The children are cold and clammy, feel very weak and fall asleep after vomiting. They are also restless, anxious, and weepy.

Antimonium crudum: These children regurgitate milk shortly after ingesting it. They become disgusted from all food, although they tend to be thirsty in the evening. They may experience a watery diarrhea of undigested food particles which is aggravated by becoming overheated or by eating vinegar or acid foods. Their nausea is particularly common at night and in the early morning. Characteristically, they have a thickly coated white tongue.

Antimonium tart: Constant nausea which may be felt in the chest is experienced by these children. They have copious amounts of saliva in their mouth, and their tongue is coated white. They may crave apples and acid drinks, but are aggravated by such drinks. This medicine is rarely given at the beginning of an illness.

Argentum nit: These children have a strong craving for sweets, even though they tend to cause them problems, especially flatulence. Infants tend to develop diarrhea when their breastfeeding mother eats a lot of sweets. They are aggravated by warmth in any form and crave cold, open air.

ARSENICUM: This medicine is as often given based on the child’s General Characteristics as it is on the nausea and vomiting symptoms. It is one of the most commonly prescribed for diarrhea, though it is also often given for nausea and vomiting. These children are chilly and are aggravated by exposure to any cold. They experience their worst symptoms at or after midnight. They are restless and constantly changing position, especially in bed, and they may get sick enough to feel weak and weary. Their abdomen is sensitive to touch, though it feels better from warm applications. Warm drinks also may be soothing. There are burning pains in the stomach that are worse from most foods or drinks (especially cold food or drinks, which are quickly vomited), taking a deep breath, or the least touch. They may also have a burning vomit which will irritate the throat and a burning diarrhea which will irritate the anus. They tend to be thirsty but take only sips of water at a time.

BRYONIA: These children suffer from indigestion after eating rich or fatty foods. The food lies in the stomach undigested and feels like a heavy lump. They feel nauseated and may vomit, usually feeling worst in the morning upon rising. They are aggravated by motion, whether it be rising from the bed, walking, or simply taking a deep breath. They have burning and cutting pains in the stomach or liver. They cannot bear a light touch on the abdomen but can be relieved by firm pressure. They sometimes have concurrent constipation, a white coated tongue, and a headache over the front part of the head.

Calcarea carb: This medicine is as often given based on the General Characteristics as it is on the nausea and vomiting symptoms. These children are chilly and very sensitive to anything cold, though they prefer to drink ice drinks. Despite being chilly, their head is hot, and it tends to sweat profusely. Their perspiration and their stools are sour smelling. Typically, these children are fair skinned and pudgy with poor muscle tone. They may concurrently get a sore throat with swelling on the tonsils and lymph glands. They have a distended abdomen and tend to be constipated. Like their stools and perspiration, their vomit is sour smelling. This vomit is often in curds shortly after nursing or eating. They suffer from indigestion after eating fat or drinking milk.

CHAMOMILLA: Although these children have characteristic physical symptoms, their psychological symptoms tend to be more prominent. Consider this medicine first if children suffer from digestive problems either before, during, or after a temper tantrum. They are extremely irritable and cross. They impatiently demand something but then refuse it once it is offered. Nothing satisfies them, except being rocked or carried or warm applications on their abdomen, and these only provide temporary relief. These children have a distended abdomen, and passing gas does not ameliorate their symptoms. The children double up, kick, and scream. Their abdomen is very sensitive to touch. They may experience vomiting with retching and may also be covered in a cold sweat. They also tend to have green, foul-smelling stools or diarrhea with undigested food. If they vomit, they tend to experience much retching. They are averse to warm drinks.

Colocynthis: Like Chamomilla, this remedy is for children with digestive problems before, during, or after a temper tantrum. These children tend to experience various types of cramping pains. They have cutting and gripping cramps in the abdomen which are worse by eating or drinking, even small amounts. They have cramps with nausea, diarrhea, and much gas which may be relieved by bending over or when lying on the abdomen. The child may want to hang over a chair or bed in a way which applies pressure to the abdomen. This firm pressure may provide some relief at first, but later the abdomen will be sensitive and aggravated by all touch. Temporary relief can be obtained by warm applications, violent motion, or passing gas or a stool. They have a bitter taste in their mouth, and their tongue feels burnt or scalded.

Ignatia: This medicine should be considered when children have digestive problems after experiencing grief or anxiety. They are known to have painless urgent diarrhea when they are emotionally upset. They tend to have a sense of a lump or heaviness in the stomach. They may also have an empty, “all gone” feeling in the stomach that is relieved by eating. Strangely enough, their nausea is sometimes ameliorated by eating. They tend to have a paradoxical appetite: they will be averse to ordinary diet, warm food, and meat, but crave exotic foods, sour foods, and normally difficult to digest foods. They also sometimes crave bread, especially rye bread. They are aggravated by fruits, sweets, and cold drinks, and they sometimes sweat during eating. They get relief from taking a deep breath, and so they tend to sigh frequently, taking deep breaths each time. These remedy is commonly given to bulimic or anorexic adolescent girls.

IPECAC: When children have a persistent nausea that is not relieved by vomiting, this medicine should be considered. Another distinguishing symptom is that they have a clean tongue, despite disordered digestion. They have little thirst and feel disgust for food. They feel nauseated after eating, especially veal, pork, indigestible foods, rich foods, pastry, ice cream, or sweets. They have a sensation as though their stomach was empty and flaccid (a sense as though it were hanging down). They tend to have excessive salivation. Their abdomen is bloated and tender to the touch. Pulsatilla is often preferred for nausea and vomiting when there is food in the stomach (if the child has other Pulsatilla symptoms), while Ipecac is more often indicated when the stomach is relatively empty.

Iris: A combination of headache with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea (or constipation) typifies this medicine. The vomit is sour and acidic, commonly with a taste of vinegar. The child has profuse saliva and a burning of the whole digestive system (see Headache).

Lycopodium: When children have much gas and bloating after anything they eat, they tend to need Lycopodium. They don’t like belts or any type of tight pants due to the pressure caused on their bloated abdomen. They typically experience the worst bloating between 4-8 p.m. Warm drinks provide some relief, and they are particularly aggravated by cold drinks, oysters, milk, peas, beans, cabbage, and pastry.

NUX VOMICA: This medicine should be considered when children have a digestive upset after prolonged mental or emotional stress or after overindulging in food, alcohol, or drugs (either by the child or the breastfeeding mother). They may want to vomit but have difficulty and instead retch frequently. When they are able to vomit, it provides relief. They also suffer from distension of their abdomen which is tender to the touch; they usually need to loosen the pants around their waist. They are also very flatulent and feel better if they are able to pass gas. They tend to have heartburn, much bloating and gas, and constipation with constant ineffectual urges for a stool and a sense of never being finished. These children are irritable, and they often have a headache concurrent with their digestive problems.

PHOSPHORUS: Burning pains in the stomach that accompany nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea are characteristic of children who need this remedy. They feel worse after warm drinks or food and desire cold or ice drinks; however, these lead to nausea and vomiting once they warm in the stomach. There is a sense of emptiness in the stomach, especially worse at night before bedtime when they become very hungry. They have a general weakness, anxiety, and restlessness.

PULSATILLA: This medicine is invaluable for children who are Pulsatilla types (see General Characteristics) or for those who develop digestive problems after eating too much fruit, or greasy or rich foods. These children are also apt to develop digestive problems after ingesting cold or iced food or drinks, after exposure to cold, or after being emotionally upset. They develop their worst bloating and nausea at night, especially after dinner. Their stools are changeable–sometimes watery, sometimes formed, and sometimes formed in changing ways. Infants tend to have watery greenish diarrhea at night. These children feel chilly, though they are averse to warm or stuffy rooms and prefer cool and open air. Their nausea is aggravated in a warm room. They also benefit from walking slowly in the open air. They tend to be indecisive about what they want to eat. They burp frequently.

Sepia: These children’s nausea is usually worse in the morning and is accompanied by a sinking emptiness and sense of goneness in the pit of the stomach. They are averse to or are nauseated simply by the smell of food. They tend to desire sour things, such as pickles and vinegar, despite the nausea. They may also crave spicy things and sweets and will be averse to meat, fats, and milk. Fats, milk, and bread may aggravate their digestive problems.

These are classical remedies meaning homoeopaths that are single remedies for more complex problems we utilize complex homeopathic remedies. For more of a detailed review and analysis of your childs case please contact our office to schedule a consultation- Consultation Link

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