What is GERD?
Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a serious condition that is often misdiagnosed by physicians because many children experience regurgitation symptoms throughout early childhood. Babies spit up all the time and this gastro reflux is normal in all children for the first several weeks of development but when it occurs more frequently as the child grows it may be diagnosed as GERD.
A child affected by GERD may experience pain, irritability, frequent spitting up or vomiting, constant or sudden crying, poor sleep habits and frequent waking. This may sound a lot like a fussy baby or toddler and that is why few symptomatic children are treated. However, if untreated or insufficiently treated these symptoms can lead to serious complications: slow growth, anemia, esophagitis (inflammation of the lining of the esophagus when untreated leads to problems with swallowing, ulcers and scarring of the esophagus) and respiratory disorders.
GERD affects the whole family. Many parents of untreated children suffering from GERD report sleep loss and mental and physical anguish related to the burden of care in everyday life from daily activities. A child is properly diagnosed with GERD when a physician uses a standard fiber optic laryngoscope with a video camera to evaluate the laryngomalacia, a barium swallow and airway study and a double pH probe.
Treatment Options for GERD
GERD treatment options include medication and lifestyle changes recommended by a certified feeding speech pathologist. The speech language and feeding pathologist plays a key role in monitoring the child’s hoarseness and speech-language motor skills. Based on the severity of the symptoms, the feeding therapist can instruct the parents of the child with GERD symptoms on reflux-inhibiting foods and behavior.
Chicago Speech Therapy provides private, in-home feeding and speech therapy for children. Karen George is certified by the State of Illinois as a childhood early intervention specialist. Karen, a leading feeding therapist, and other therapists on her team take a detailed case history of diet, including types of food consumed, portions, and the time lapse between eating and sedentary behavior such as reclining or rigorous activity. Karen will provide professional advice on what your child should eat and other behavioral reflux precautions you should heed when feeding your child on a daily basis.