Find the Right Reflux Medications for your Child

Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Guide
  • HealthCentral Interviews Tracy Davenport About Her New Book, “Making Life Better for a Child With Acid Reflux”

    You mentioned in your book that getting the medications right can be a long, arduous process. Are there helpful tips parents can keep in mind during this process?

    First, I think it is important to understand why getting the correct reflux medication(s) might be an arduous process. It really has to do with two terms that parents may want to have a very basic understanding if their baby or child has reflux.

    The first term is pharmacokinetics, which has to do with the movement of medicines into, through, and out of the child’s body. The second term is pharmacodynamics, and that is how the reflux medicines work in the body. While each of these words are very large and uncommon to most of us, they can serve as a reminder that reflux medications, like most medicines, are not magic – they are based on theories, chemistry, relatively small group experimentation and then trial-and-error with a bigger group of patients (in this case, our children).
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    When your doctor considers the movement of your child’s reflux medication, he or she must have an understanding that reflux medication effectiveness is often related to the body weight of your infant or child. Therefore as weight changes, the required dosage of medicine might change. Additionally, there are individual differences in how babies and children metabolize the same reflux medication. In fact, the University of Missouri is doing some fascinating research on this very topic –

    When your healthcare provider considers how the medication works in your child’s body, he or she must know that some reflux medications can lose their effectiveness over time. Your doctor will hopefully understand that children can develop tolerance to the effects of a group of reflux drugs called H-2 blockers. For example, this week my son may be living proof of this phenomena. After adding an H-2 blocker to his daily regimen a few months ago, he felt great. Now, his nightly reflux symptoms are beginning to return. Dr. Phillips explains in our book that this reflux medication tolerance can happen in as little as one week.

    And just when you think things couldn’t get much more complicated with regards to reflux medication, most doctors know that some of the adverse effects of reflux medications can include stomach problems such as abdominal pain and nausea, which can be some of the same symptoms as acid reflux. So it can leave the caregiver in a tough place, wondering if these are reflux symptoms the child is experiencing or if the medication is causing these reflux-type symptoms.

    All of this can sound a bit scary, and most would agree that there is still a lot that needs to be understood about children and medication. But for the time being, it is the best that we have, and I think that most of the time, it all gets figured out…eventually.

    The complexity and uncertainty with medications is why we all need to make sure our healthcare providers are up to date on the latest research and that they are good communicators (and listeners). As a parent, you may be the one to help “crack the code” of what drugs are working or not working for your baby, or if your child is having an adverse reaction to a reflux drug. I think those in-the-know understand that medication dosage for acid reflux can sometimes be as complex and involved as the reflux symptoms themselves.
Published On: August 02, 2006