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:
Problems with the nerves that control the LES
Problems with LES muscle tone
Impaired peristalsis—muscular contractions that propel food toward the stomach
Abnormal pressure on the LES
Increased relaxation of the LES
Increased pressure within the abdomen
Factors that may increase your teen's chance of GERD 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:
Eating smaller, more frequent meals.
Avoiding late night meals.
Sleeping with the head of the bed elevated.
Avoiding lying down within 2-3 hours after eating.
Wearing looser clothing that doesn't bind the stomach area.
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:
Proton pump inhibitors
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.
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.
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