I often talk with parents right after their infant or child has been diagnosed with reflux. It is so overwhelming to get a diagnosis and start on the journey to treat the symptoms. Some illnesses are so straightforward. I used to be so relieved (well you know....it is all relative) when the doctor would announce that one of my kids had strep throat. Now I wasn’t really excited that I had to stay home from work and school, hold a feverish kid and watch all of those episodes of Barney. But strep throat was so easy to cure! After a few doses of antibiotics, the fever would subside, the jumping on the couch would resume and we could live our lives as if nothing happened.
Then there is GASTROESOPHAGEL REFLUX (or reflux for short). Reflux is not easy to diagnose and it often takes the doctor and the parents a few tries to really get a treatment plan in place that reduces symptoms and helps a baby feel better. A doctor may need to choose from a rather big list of options: elevating the bed, thickening the formula, changing the formula, holding the baby upright after eating, small, frequent meals, high calorie diet, and special diet. Then there are all of the medications: acid reducer, antacid, liquid, compound, efferdose, capsule, high dose, low dose. Well you know. You have probably tried a few of these treatments with your own baby.
I always warn parents that it might take some trial and error to find a treatment plan that reduces pain and other reflux symptoms. Sometimes it appears that the doctor is not very skilled and parents may wonder if they need a new doctor. The truth is, what appears to be a rather random, trial and error process is pretty typical since there is no “one size fits all treatment” for acid reflux. Doctors must use their training, skills and previous experiences to choose the best option. I often say, it is like the doctor has a bag of tricks. If one option doesn’t work out, the doctor can try something else. A PAGER member calls it the Reflux Toolbox. This actually sounds better than a bag of tricks. We know medicine is NOT a “trick”. So from now on, I will tell parents, the doctor needs to open his/her Reflux Toolbox and figure out which tool will work best for your child. Except that with my kid, the doctor needed a toolbox, a tool belt and a huge workshop. But that is another story!
Published On: December 20, 2006