Last time, I discussed the communication problems that might arise when a baby has worrisome digestive symptoms such as Gastroesophageal Reflux. The baby, the parent (often the mother) and the doctor may see things from different points of view resulting in a breakdown of communication. After evaluating the baby, the doctor may tell the mother that the baby is “healthy” and the tests were “normal”. The doctor has ruled out more serious conditions such as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) but the message often gets interpreted by the mother/parent in a different way. She may be thinking, “There is something wrong and the doctor doesn’t understand.” Maybe the parent and the doctor need to have a different conversation about Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER), what it is and how to cope with it.
Recently, I attended a GI conference and heard a great deal of discussion about “Functional” GI disorders. It was surprising to hear that infant Gastroesophageal Reflux and Infant Colic were considered Functional GI Disorders. So what is so functional about infant reflux? It really seems more dysfunctional than functional doesn’t it? Maybe there is a breakdown in communication about infant reflux and colic specifically when we are talking about the causes and treatments of these conditions.
In medicine, there is a distinction between organic illness and functional illness.
Organic Illness Functional Illness
An illness or condition that A condition that has no consistent
causes a change to the tissue, biological markers.
organs and cells of the body.
Examples: Esophagitis Examples: Gastroesophageal Reflux
Eosinophilic Esophagitis (Infant regurgitation), Infant Colic