I am a mother of two. I have a daughter who will be 3 next week and a son who is 9 months old. My son suffers from severe reflux. It began in the hospital right after he was born. He cried his eyes out and arched his back like it was his job. He barely slept, and I was told that "some babies are just that way". The nurse in the hospital assured me that his back arching was due to gas.
When we got home from the hospital, his stools were tiny and petrified, not the typical mushy infant poop. It lasted for about two weeks before I said something about it to the pediatrician. She recommended that we give him watered down prune juice. This did nothing except make him vomit and scream all night long. She recommended this over and over and finally, when my son was 2 months, I had enough and made an appointment with a Gastrointestinal specialist. It took two long months to see the specialist, and throughout that two months, we continued to deal with a baby who cried constantly and barely slept at night.
When the appointment with the specialist finally came, he evaluated our son through a series of questions and a couple of small tests. He determined that my son had reflux. It was the last thing that I suspected since he did not spit-up or vomit. He told me that he had "silent reflux", which is when the food comes up and the baby swallows it. It is still very painful and disruptive for the baby. The reflux was also the cause for his hard stools, because little did I know, inconsistent stool patterns can be a sign of reflux.
My son was put on a regimen of Zantac and hypoallergenic formula, which worked well for a couple of months. He has been on Prilosec and the same formula for three months and is doing great. If I did not take initiative and see the specialist, I would be pulling my hair out and my baby would have suffered all of these months. I thank God every day that I took matters into my own hands.
Now that you have some background on me, and why I consider myself to be an "expert" on this topic, I will introduce you to some facts. According to the Mayo Clinic, reflux is what happens when the contents of the stomach come back up into the esophagus. Most infants have some form of reflux within the first year of their life; however, only a small percentage of those infants have it so badly that it warrants attention from a doctor. Reflux tends to occur after feedings, but it can also happen anytime your infant strains, coughs or cries. Reflux resolves in 90% of babies between the ages of 12 and 18 months; however, some babies must continue to be treated beyond this time frame.
There are many symptoms of reflux which you need to be aware of when observing your baby. If you notice any of these symptoms and you suspect reflux is the culprit, contact your pediatrician to have him/her evaluated. Symptoms include:
- Inconsolable crying
- Crying after feedings
- Crying when being placed on the back
- Poor sleep patterns
- Back arching
- Stuffy nose
- Spitting up
- Projectile vomiting
- Food coming up and then being swallowed
- Sour breath
- Inconsistent stool patterns
- Refusing to eat
- Poor weight gain
If you suspect that your baby is suffering from infant reflux, which is causing him/her and the entire family unnecessary stress, let your pediatrician know immediately. It is very important to get your child evaluated and diagnosed in order to avoid further complications and stress. The pediatrician may prescribe medication, or refer you to a GI specialist, who will prescribe an antacid such as Zantac, Prilosec or Prevacid, if the case is severe enough. It is also recommended to thicken all bottles with rice cereal when an infant has reflux, because this helps to keep the food in the stomach.
Always be sure to follow your gut when it comes to your baby and his/her health, because the old saying, "Mother knows best" is very, very true.