Silent Acid Reflux occurs in about 20% of babies at some point during the first 9 months of their lives. Despite how common it is, there is quite surprisingly, little awareness of the condition.
Babies suffering from silent acid reflux are often thought to have colic or common stomach troubles. And many parents feel they are not being taken seriously when describing the condition to their healthcare professionals.
Silent acid reflux is common in infants because their sphincters are not developed, they have a shorter oesophagus and they lie down much of the time. Very basically, the condition occurs because of a backup of stomach acid that causes inflammation in areas not protected against gastric acid exposure.
Not all babies suffering from reflux actually vomit. What’s distinct about silent reflux is that the acid comes partially up, or comes up and the baby swallows it back down causing burning in both directions. Many babies will not display all of the symptoms but may still be experiencing a painful, heartburn like feeling. It is difficult to diagnose – and often misdiagnosed as colic or a food allergy.
Babies with this condition experience a chronic cough, hoarseness or “barking”, noisy breathing or pauses in breathing, trouble feeding, spitting up, or inhaling food and trouble gaining weight. Other symptoms include constant, sudden crying or colic-like symptoms, irritability and pain, poor sleep habits typically with frequent waking, arching of the neck and back during or after eating, spitting up or vomiting, wet burps or frequent hiccups, bad breath, frequent ear infections, frequent gagging or choking, refusing food, etc.
Many parents detect the change in their baby’s character and say the irritability is very different and the crying is very distinct. Some babies experience mild symptoms that they outgrow, however it is very important to have all the info, trust your instincts and be able to share your concerns with your health care provider.
Silent acid reflux can be particularly difficult for parents who are working on little sleep, dealing with a distressed baby and experiencing frustration and helplessness. It’s important to seek support and to know that that there are solutions, including medication to neutralise the acid.
Have you experienced silent acid reflux with your baby? Share your experiences with us and other moms below.