Five Signs of Childhood Acid Reflux

by Bryan Vartabedian, M.D. Health Professional

Dental enamel loss

When reflux reaches the mouth it can eat away at a child's dental enamel and predispose the child to tooth decay. Ask your child's dentist to look for signs of reflux damage in the teeth. The dentist may be able to offer a protective sealant.

Picky eaters

While most children are not the most adventurous eaters, children with GERD are especially sensitive to foods that cause them pain. Studies show that about 60 percent of children with GERD exhibit some kind of food refusal, compared to only 25 percent of children who do not have GERD.

Stomach pain

Stomach problems in children can often be a sign of reflux, even the only sign. Children will often mistake acid pain with stomach problems because they are unable to accurately localize and characterize their pain. Anything having to do with the digestive system is a 'tummy ache'.

Persistent cough

Cough is natural mechanism for protecting the lung and airway from unintended and hazardous foreign matter, like stomach acid. In children who cannot describe their symptoms a cough that occurs at night may indicate reflux.

A cough can also be a sign of an upper respiratory infection, pneumonia and asthma.

Throat clearing

Throat clearing, like coughing, indicates something foreign or hazardous in the lungs or wind pipe that the body is trying to expel. Chronic throat clearing unaccompanied by other symptoms like post-nasal drip and a fever often indicate acid reflux disease. In fact, it is one of the most commonly overlooked symptoms.

Bryan Vartabedian, M.D.
Meet Our Writer
Bryan Vartabedian, M.D.

Bryan Vartabedian, M.D., wrote about acid reflux for HealthCentral. He is a pediatric gastroenterologist and assistant professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine/Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, Texas. He is the author of Colic Solved.