What Are the Signs and Symptoms of GERD in Children and Adults?


According to estimations, around 60 million individuals in the U.S. have the fiery, burning feeling that we call "heartburn" at least once a month. Though we may not imagine them when picturing classic heartburn sufferers, teenagers, children, and even infants are among those included in that statistic.

For approximately 20% of the population, heartburn is a result of a more serious problem referred to as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a condition that can significantly impact the health and wellness of individuals who have it. If you or someone you love notices persistent or severe symptoms of acid reflux, contact Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates to find a digestive health specialist who offers GERD treatment in New Orleans, LA.

What causes GERD to develop?

At the base of your esophagus (where it joins the stomach) is a muscular valve referred to as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Whenever you drink or eat something, the LES relaxes to permit food/drink to move into the stomach before tightening again to inhibit stomach acid from regurgitating back up. When this muscle fails to function properly, the acid can regurgitate into your esophagus, causing a fiery feeling (heartburn) and possibly a bad taste in the mouth.

GERD is a condition that may arise in those who often experience acid reflux. Over the course of time, repeated exposure to stomach acid can induce long-term damage to the esophagus. This may lead to considerable discomfort and a greater chance of other troubles in or around your esophagus.

Though GERD is not typically the result of any particular trigger, there are a number of issues that could induce recurring acid reflux in children and adults, such as:

  • Lying down after eating
  • Obesity
  • Smoking (or being exposed to secondhand smoke)
  • Eating spicy or high-acidity foods
  • Consuming large meals

Younger individuals (especially babies) may also be more likely to develop acid reflux simply because their digestive muscles have not completely developed.

What are common symptoms of GERD in children and adults?

GERD generally causes several of the same symptoms as acid reflux, but they may be felt more often (at least twice a week at a moderate-to-severe level). Additional symptoms arise in time as a result of persistent acid reflux. The most frequently occurring symptoms of GERD in adult patients include:

  • Frequent heartburn (burning sensation in the chest)
  • Raw, sore throat, or hoarse voice
  • Bad breath
  • Choking
  • The sensation of a lump of food stuck in the throat
  • Dry cough
  • Regurgitation of food or sour liquid
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Chest pain

In addition to the issues listed above, indications of GERD in children may involve:

  • Breathing problems, such as wheezing and/or coughing
  • Refusing to eat (in infants)
  • Difficulty gaining weight
  • Recurring bouts of vomiting or nausea (after infancy)

It is particularly important to seek treatment for GERD in children before it becomes a problem that affects their development and health. Should you or your child have signs or symptoms that might be associated with ongoing acid reflux, request an appointment with a Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates gastrointestinal specialist without delay to explore your options for treating GERD.

How is GERD generally detected and treated?

Our New Orleans, LA gastroenterology specialists might investigate your symptoms and check your esophagus for signs of gastroesophageal reflux disease utilizing an endoscope or a pH probe. If you are diagnosed with the condition, our team might suggest certain lifestyle modifications, such as avoiding certain foods known to cause acid reflux, weight loss, standing or sitting upright after a meal, or avoiding smoking.

Your GI specialist may also recommend medications to reduce acid production or strengthen the LES to prevent stomach acid from regurgitating into the esophagus. In some instances, a surgical procedure might be required to improve the esophageal junction with the stomach. Treatment options for GERD in children or adults might vary on an individual basis, making it imperative to see a gastrointestinal provider to ensure you get the appropriate treatment for your specific needs.

Expert care for GERD in patients of all ages

Acid reflux signs and symptoms are common, but they may be the start of larger health issues. The board-certified gastroenterologists at Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates are proud to offer a variety of options to treat GERD in children and adults. To learn more about what causes GERD or to receive treatment for GERD in New Orleans, LA, please request a visit with one of our GI specialists.