As we know, the digestive system is a channel that functions to digest or process the food we consume
The digestive system in our bodies is always working continuously in processing food and beverage intake. Food and drinks that are consumed will enter the stomach to be digested, with the help of acids and pepsin. However, before it enters the stomach, the food goes through other parts such as the esophagus.
Because it is unceasingly working, the digestive system is very vulnerable from disorder or disease. Sometimes most people always ignore some symptoms or signs because of damage to the digestive system. Some of the symptoms that are often felt as a sign of damage to the digestive system, namely a burning sensation in the chest. Which of these symptoms is generally caused by reflux of stomach acid in the esophagus. This disease is called Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease or GERD. In addition to burning in the chest area, there are other symptoms that can be caused, such as a bitter taste in the mouth, hoarseness, coughing and so on.
This acid reflux can occur and affect anyone of all ages, including children and babies. Usually in babies over time this disorder will heal by itself. Whereas in children and adolescents, this disorder can persist into adulthood.
Acid reflux in children occurs when food or stomach contents return to the esophagus. Whereas in infants it occurs after drinking milk, be it breast milk or formula milk. The exact causes in children and infants are still not clear. However, there are several factors that can trigger acid reflux in children and infants as below.
Causes of Gastric Acid Reflux in Children and Infants
Lower Esophageal Valve
The lower esophageal valve or LES (lower esophageal sphincter) is a ring of muscle located at the bottom of the esophagus, where this valve will automatically open when food enters the stomach, and will close again when food does not return to the esophagus. In infants and children, the LES or esophageal muscle is still not fully developed. When the LES opens, all the contents in the stomach will return back into the esophagus. So that by doing so, will cause a child or baby you spit up or vomit.
Short and narrow esophagus
Acid reflux will often occur when the baby’s esophagus is shorter. The reason is, the short esophagus will speed up and facilitate the passage of food from reflux to the mouth. Refluxed stomach contents irritate the lining of the esophagus.
There are certain foods that can cause acid reflux, depending on the age of your child or baby. Some foods that can cause acid reflux include tomato and citrus products. Some foods such as candy, chocolate, and foods that contain lots of fat can also stimulate the lower esophageal muscles to open again. So that it will cause the stomach contents to turn back into the esophagus.
To reduce acid reflux, you can change the diet of your child or baby. Meanwhile, for babies who are still consuming breast milk, you can reduce the risk of breast milk reflux by changing your diet as a breastfeeding mother.
Gastroparesis or Delayed Gastric emptying
Gastroparesis is a medical problem that can result in stomach contents that take too long to move into the small intestine. When food is transferred from the stomach to the small intestine, the stomach usually contracts which is then digested. However, at that time the stomach muscles will not function or work properly if there is damage to the vagus nerve, the nerve that controls the movement of food from the stomach to the digestive tract. So this will cause the food consumed to stay longer in the stomach. And this is what will trigger stomach acid reflux.
A hiatal hernia is a condition in which a part of the stomach attaches to an opening in the diaphragm. A small hiatal hernia will not cause any problems, while a large hiatal hernia will cause acid reflux.
Hiatal hernia is a common condition, especially in people over 50 years of age. However, the exact cause is unknown. Meanwhile, a hiatal hernia in children is only congenital, and can be one of the triggers for stomach acid reflux.
Baby’s Position When Drinking Milk
Poisoning of babies during or after drinking milk can be a trigger factor for acid reflux. Where usually this problem is often ignored by parents. In a horizontal position, the contents of the stomach will easily turn into the esophagus.
The angle at which the esophagus joins the stomach is known as the “angle of his”. Which this condition can also cause acid reflux. The benefit or function of this angle is not known with certainty. However, this angle most likely serves to assist the performance of the lower esophageal muscles in preventing the return of stomach acid. If this angle is too steep or too sharp, preventing stomach acid reflux will be difficult.
Feeding your child or baby at once can also cause acid reflux. In addition, eating too often can be the cause.
How to Prevent Stomach Acid in Children or Infants
To prevent or reduce stomach acid, you can breastfeed your baby little by little, but often. If the volume of milk that enters the stomach is small, digestion will be faster. As well as the amount of content that will be regurgitated into a little.
After breastfeeding you must be able to position your baby in the right position. After breastfeeding, try to position your child or baby to sit on your lap, with his head still resting on your chest. Do or maintain this position for approximately 20-30 minutes after each feeding.
Breast milk has many benefits compared to formula milk, especially for babies who have high stomach acid. Breast milk is digested more quickly so it will reduce spitting up. Apart from that, breast milk also has special enzymes that can aid digestion. Breast milk also will not trigger allergies in babies.
However, if you give your baby formula milk, then try to give formula milk that contains hypoallergenic formulas. Hypoallergenic milk has a high tolerance for a sensitive digestive system, besides that this milk is also able to be digested more quickly by the stomach so that it will minimize the occurrence of vomiting.
You also have to set a comfortable position when your baby sleeps. When sleeping, babies usually lie flat, so gravity is unable to help or keep food down. So as a result, babies who have stomach acid have to endure pain when they wake up at night. Some babies sleep soundly. However, some people sometimes become restless and feel uncomfortable. To solve this problem, it is highly recommended to raise the baby’s cot by about 30 degrees. Because this way will reduce the risk of vomiting in babies. In this position the opening into the stomach will b
e higher than the outlet. So this will help the food stay down.
That is the cause and how to prevent stomach acid in babies. Hope it is useful.