Is It Colic, Infant Reflux, Or GERD? Learn How To Tell The Difference
by Roni MacLean
It can sometimes be difficult for a parent to understand whether the baby has colic or reflux (and even GERD) since some of the symptoms (eg. poor sleep, constant crying) can be similiar. It’s also extremely important to rule out reflux as a cause of this crying, as it’s becoming widely acknowledged that many cases of colic are actually undiagnosed and untreated cases of reflux. In these cases, simply treating the reflux may eliminate the colicky behavior.
Colic can be defined as uncontrollable, extended crying in babies who are otherwise healthy and well-fed. All babies cry, but when they cry for more than three hours a day, three to four days a week, they are said to have colic.
Symptoms of Colic
The main symptom is continuous crying for long periods of time. This crying can occur at any time of day but it usually gets worse at night. It’s not believed that colic is caused by pain although a colicky baby may look uncomfortable or appear to be in pain. They may lift their head, draw their legs up to their abdomen, pass gas and become red-faced. Poor sleep habits is also common.
The term reflux is a shorter way of referring to GER (Gastro Esophageal Reflux) and is simply defined as the backward flow of stomach contents up the esophagus. GER is a physiological process that happens to everyone—young and old—from time to time, particularly after meals and many times we are not even aware it is happening. In babies it generally occurs from immaturity of the LES (Lower Esophageal Sphincter) which is the muscle between the stomach and esophagus.
Some common symptoms of uncomplicated reflux can include:
In contrast, GER (Gastro Esophageal Reflux) is referred to as GERD (Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease) when complications arise. GERD is a pathological process and the complications can be typical (failure to thrive, feeding and oral aversions, esophagitis, etc) or atypical (wheezing, pneumonia, chronic sinusitis, etc). Patients with GERD have complications arising from their GER that necessitate medical intervention. GERD is also referred to as “Pathogenic GER”. It is estimated that approximately one in three hundred children will present symptoms of GERD and is more common in children with neurological impairments.
Symptoms indicative of Reflux Disease or GERD:
About the Author
Early in 2001 Roni MacLean launched InfantRefluxDisease.com. One of the best sources of info online, it’s an informational website to help others survive what MacLean had been through with her daughter. She has also written the highly acclaimed book, Life on the Reflux Roller Coaster, published in 2004. Currently she dedicates all her time to the website and it’s visitors.
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