Seven Costs of Care for a Child With Severe Acid Reflux

Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. | June 2, 2017

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Most children with severe acid reflux live at home and are cared for by their family. The costs of care can be both direct and indirect. The annual costs of caring for a child with severe acid reflux can dramatically change a family’s budget. Here are some of the potential costs to help you plan financially.

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Medicine

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Common drugs for acid reflux treatment include antacids, H-2-receptor blockers, and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). Researchers estimate that PPIs alone can cost about $500 a year. Children with severe reflux are often on several medications at once.

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Doctor visits and surgery

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Until reflux symptoms are well managed, doctor visits can be numerous. General practitioners, gastroenterologists, and other specialty doctors may be needed. Surgical options for acid reflux include laparoscopic or open Nissen fundoplication. Surgery is usually necessary only if the child is not responding to medication.

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Special foods

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When determining the cause of acid reflux symptoms in a child, sometimes a special diet is required. For babies, this can include specialized formula that can be more expensive than regular baby formula. For older children, a gluten-free or dairy-free diet may be recommended to rule out food intolerances.

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Lost work time

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Losing work time is known as one of the indirect costs of care. If your child is too sick for a babysitter or school, this may mean more time away from work compared with having a healthy child that may need less care. Frequent doctor visits may also require additional time off from work.

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Lost opportunity costs

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While rarely considered, having a child with a severe illness can impact your finances indirectly as a result of lost opportunities in the workplace. For example, it may be difficult to take a job that pays more but requires more travel or longer hours if your child is ill.

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Emotional and social strain

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If you are caring for a child with severe acid reflux disease, you may already know what a toll caregiving can take on your emotions and social life. Costs of taking care of your own health can increase as a result.

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Physical strain

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Children with acid reflux are often poor sleepers and can require caregivers to get up frequently throughout the night. Smaller, more frequent meals may also be necessary. Compared with caring for a child without severe acid reflux, the physical requirements of caring for a child with acid reflux can be much greater. Taking the physical care needed of the caregiver can add to the financial costs of care.