Infant acid reflux can cause a baby a lot of pain during the first months of life. This is the time in which acid reflux is most likely to be a problem for pediatric patients. After 11 years working with parents of acid reflux babies, I have also seen trends in parent reported reflux “flare-ups.”
One thing that many parents report causing added acid reflux symptoms is teething. Teething generally begins at about six months of age and can last up until the age of three years old. Some symptoms of teething include sore or swollen gums, excessive or increased drooling, GI upset, low-grade fever or even diarrhea. Every baby is different and you may experience all or none of these symptoms while cutting their teeth.
Why Teething Triggers Reflux
While their is no clear cut reason for why acid reflux can flare up during teething, it may be due to one or more factors.
1. Added saliva can cause choking as can a baby’s desire to chew on fingers. As most reflux parents know, these kidos tend to have pretty strong gag reflexes and once they choke can often end up emptying their stomachs.
2. Lack of sleep from teething pain can also add to reflux. This may be because added fatigue and crying further lower the pressure in the LES. Normal teething-related stomach pain can seem worse in these babies who already deal with GI upset.
3. Medications like ibuprofen, often given for teething pain, can also add to symptoms of acid reflux.
How to Ease the Pain
If your child is dealing with a flare-up caused by teething there are several things you can try.
1. Cold teething toys can help to relieve the pain naturally.
2. Over the counter medications can also relieve pain associated with acid reflux.
3. Sometimes** numbing creaor the gums** like Oragel is also helpful in limited use.
Be sure to discuss with your pediatrician which medications are best for your child, how they interact with current medications, and if they will cause any side effects. Sometimes babies with acid reflux pain can require a change in their dosage of acid reflux medications or additional medication until they get through teething.
Again, do not make any changes without first discussing it with your child’s pediatrician.
Teething can be rough, but it doesn’t last forever. Hopefully with proper treatment you can get your acid reflux baby through teething with your sanity in tact
Jennifer Rackley is a nutritionist and mother of three girls. Two of her children have dealt with acid reflux disease, food allergies, migraines, and asthma. She has a Bachelor of Science in dietetics from Harding University and graduate work in public health nutrition through Eastern Kentucky University. In addition to writing for HealthCentral, she does patient consults and serves on the Board of Directors for the Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association.