Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) results in food and stomach acid backing up into the esophagus from the stomach. GERD requires treatment to avoid complications like esophageal damage.
The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a muscular ring between the esophagus and the stomach. It relaxes to let food pass into the stomach, then closes shut to prevent it from backing up. With GERD, the ring does not close as tightly as it normally should. This causes acid reflux, a burning sensation that can be felt below the breastbone.
The following factors contribute to GERD:
Factors that may increase your teen's chance of GERD include:
GERD may cause:
Your doctor will ask about your teen’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Tests may include:
Imaging tests can assess LES function and surrounding structures. These may include:
Treatment options vary based on the severity of the GERD. Options may include one or more of the following:
This may be all that is needed to relieve GERD symptoms. In some cases, these may be recommended before medication is prescribed. These changes can be tailored to an individual person based on their habits. Lifestyle changes include:
Foods and drinks to avoid may include:
Medication may be needed to relieve symptoms and heal any damage to the esophagus. Many medications for GERD are available over-the-counter and by prescription. Your teen's doctor may recommend the following:
In more severe cases, the doctor may recommend surgery or endoscopy.
The most common surgery is called fundoplication. During this procedure, the surgeon wraps part of the stomach around the LES. This makes the LES stronger and prevents stomach acid from backing up into the esophagus.
There are no current guidelines to prevent GERD.
NASPGHAN—North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children
Canadian Digestive Health Foundation
Acid reflux (GER & GERD) in children & teens. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/acid-reflux-ger-gerd-children-teens. Accessed January 28, 2021.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116914/Gastroesophageal-reflux-disease-GERD. Accessed January 28, 2021.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/en/teens/gerd.html. Accessed January 28, 2021.
Last reviewed March 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Chelsea Skucek, MSN, BS, RNC-NIC Last Updated: 1/28/2021