Definition and Symptoms

Heartburn (aka reflux or gastroesophageal reflux (GER)) is reflux of stomach contents up out of the stomach and into the esophagus.  Symptoms can often be described as “burning in the chest,” increased burping or feeling of bloating after meals, or feeling a “sour taste come up into the mouth.” 

Why does this happen?

In infants, the lower esophageal sphincter (the ring of muscle at the top of the stomach) is immature and instead of tightening to keep the food in the stomach,  it opens at the wrong time allowing stomach contents to move back or reflux into the esophagus.  In older children, the sphincter is matured, so the symptoms are more commonly caused by diet. Certain foods or drinks can cause the lower esophageal sphincter to relax and can delay the digestion process; these make reflux symptoms worse.

Symptom prevention and treatment  

When symptoms are intermittent, over the counter medication can be tried when symptoms arise. These medications could include:

 If medications are needed more frequently or symptoms arise more often, consult with your provider who may recommend a daily medication or referral to a gastroenterologist.

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