Four Things You Might Not Know about Acid Reflux and Puberty

by Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Writer

Puberty is a normal phase of development that occurs when a child’s body transitions into an adult body and readies for the possibility of reproduction. It is also a time that acid reflux symptoms can change for the worse. Below are four reasons why puberty may matter for your child’s reflux.

1. Changing Hormones Can Increase Acid Reflux

One of the causes of acid reflux symptoms is a decrease in lower esophageal sphincter pressure that allows stomach contents to travel back into the esophagus. This change in sphincter pressure can be brought about by a change in hormones. The hormonal impact on acid reflux can be seen in puberty, pregnancy and in menopause.

2. Acid Reflux Can Cause Sleep and Behavior Problems

It is generally understood that acid reflux can cause sleep problems. However, new research shows that sleep problems related to acid reflux disease in teens, are also associated with problem behaviors. In a study of Japanese teens, it was shown that teens designated in the “problem behavior group” had poorer sleep and more gastroesophageal reflux disease symptoms than in the teens classified as having normal behavior (Sakaguchi, 2014).

3. A Teen’s Eating Can Make Reflux Symptoms Worse

The teen years are typically a time that children begin to move away from their parents’ constant supervision. This is especially true when it comes to eating out and choosing what they want to eat. Most teens enjoy eating at places that serve fare such as acidic pizza and greasy French fries—not the best choices for acid reflux disease. Teens also tend to stay up later than they did as children, and tend to eat much later at night than they did only a few years earlier.

4. Acid Reflux can be Mistaken for Anorexia in Teens

While acid reflux is a very different disorder than anorexia, some of the behaviors a teen might exhibit may be similar. For example, if acid reflux symptoms are bothersome to a teen, they may not feel hungry and may refuse meals or purposely limit the amount of food they are eating because it hurts to eat. Because acid reflux disease can sometimes be tricky to diagnose, it is important that you find a health care provider who is open to looking at all possibilities of what is causing the change in eating habits and not jump to quick conclusions about anorexia.

Tracy Davenport, Ph.D.
Meet Our Writer
Tracy Davenport, Ph.D.

Davenport is the founder of Using the latest scientific research, she helps people live their healthiest lives via one-on-one coaching, corporate talks, and sharing the more than 1,000 health-related articles she's authored.