Distraction Therapy to Ease Reflux Pain

Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Guide
  • "It can't be reflux, because when we pick her up she stops crying!"


    This is a common misconception among parents of children with acid reflux and physicians. Unknowingly, these individuals mistakenly think that acid reflux pain cannot be real if the baby stops crying when he or she is distracted.


    Even though pain distraction is a relatively new field of study, preliminary research supports the power of distraction for pain management.


    As an example, patients commonly report experiencing excessive pain during medical procedures for severe burn injuries. Pain control can be particularly challenging for these individuals. To help reach their goal of reducing the pain from the burns, researchers are exploring whether allowing patients to escape mentally into a virtual world can help reduce their pain experience.

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    The preliminary outcomes are fascinating. Researchers are finding that immersing in a virtual world of an icy 3-D canyon can reduce a patient's pain ratings during severe burn wound care by 30 to 50 percent!


    As is often the case, this research is supporting what we know from our common sense and life experiences. If you would sit on a bench in a busy shopping mall, it would be hard to hear the footsteps of someone walking by you due to the background noise. If you sat in the same place when the stores were closed and the mall was mostly quiet, the footsteps of the person walking by you may seem almost loud. But of course, the footsteps are no louder than they were before, they were just covered up by the background noise. Our minds work much the same way. Additional "noise" or distraction can cover up something very real.


    So, if you suspect your baby is suffering from acid reflux, do not rule it out (or let a medical provider rule it out) just because of your ability to distract your child from his or her discomfort.

Published On: September 05, 2007