What You Need to Know About GERD in Teens

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While chronic heartburn and GERD are often considered to be adult disorders, it is becoming more common among children and teens. Because of the increasing consumption of fast food and ever-expanding waistlines among teens, GERD is becoming an increasing problem in teenagers.

Under normal conditions, food passes through the esophagus, and the muscle at the bottom of your esophagus closes off so food and liquids will remain in your stomach.

This muscle is the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). When the LES doesn't close properly, stomach contents and acid can back up into the esophagus.

Symptoms of GERD in Teens

Greasy, fatty fast foods are popular, especially among teens. And if your teen has GERD, symptoms can occur after eating. Some of the symptoms of GERD in teens include a burning sensation in the chest or throat, a bitter taste in the mouth, and in some cases, respiratory problems. If these or other symptoms of GERD occur, medical attention is needed.

More on GERD symptoms in teens.

Diagnosing GERD in Teens

Your child's doctor may base a diagnosis of acid reflux on your teen's symptoms, a physical examination, and your teen's response to medical treatment. For example, if your teen's symptoms improve after treating proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), then it's probably GERD. If your teen's symptoms do not improve, the doctor may order tests to determine if the acid reflux is caused by GERD or another disorder.

Diagnostic tests may include barium x-rays, an upper endoscopy, lab tests, or esophageal pH monitoring test.

More on diagnosing GERD in teens.

Treating GERD in Teens

Your teenager's doctor will most likely suggest one or more lifestyle modifications first, before considering any medications. These modifications can include what they should eat and when they should eat.

If reflux symptoms continue despite making changes in lifestyle, the doctor may suggest other remedies, such as antacids, acid suppressers or acid blockers.

More on treating GERD in teens.

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