Children with Reflux-Any Advice?

Updated on May 19, 2008
L.A. asks from Orange, CA
26 answers

Hi, My 23 month old baby girl was just diagnosed with "reflux" today. Dr. wants to do an upper g.i. test as well for precautionary reasons. They are starting her on prevacid today. I was just wondering if any other moms have had this problem with any of the children and if they've been treated with the same. Anything I should be cautious of? Any serious side effects? Has your childs conditioned worsened? gotten better? sorry- so many questions. Any advice greatly appreciated. =)

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J.K.

answers from Los Angeles on

Both of my boys were diagnosed soon after birth with reflux. My older son was weaned off the prevacid and reglan when he was about 19 months old and is doing great now. My baby is still on Prevacid. His doctor plans to wean him around his 1st birthday. I never saw any side effects from the prevacid and if anything it made things a whole lot better. The kids were happier because they were no longer in pain. Most children are diagnosed after birth and out grow it about 1 year of age when they are upright and walking most of the time. Did she have any symptoms when she was born?

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T.A.

answers from Visalia on

Hi L.,

I'd be very careful about giving your child a presciption drug like Prevacid. Especially since there are many natural products taht could probably help with this problem...I just received this in a health letter I receive regularly:

Regular Acid-Reducing Drugs May Cause Dementia

I often write about the pitfalls of taking stomach acid-reducing or blocking drugs, and here's one more reason not to take them: Popping acid-reducers such as Tagamet or Zantac for an extended period can increase the risk of mental decline in older people. Think twice before reaching for these drugs, especially if you are getting on in years.

MORE DRUGS LEAD TO MORE COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT

Physicians have long observed that older patients tend to become disoriented and confused after regularly taking acid-reducing drugs known as H2-receptor blockers (histamine-2 receptor antagonists). Available both over-the-counter and by prescription, these drugs are taken to reduce the production of stomach acid. Popular OTC brands include Axid AR (nizatidine), Pepcid AC (famotidine), Tagamet HB (cimetidine) and Zantac 75 (ranitidine).

At the Indiana University Center for Aging Research, gerontologist Malaz A. Boustani, MD, MPH, set out to determine whether long-term use of H2-receptor blockers contributes to a higher risk of cognitive impairment. He and his colleagues conducted a study of 1,558 Americans 65 and over. They found that participants who took these medications on a continuous basis for two or more years substantially increased their risk of cognitive impairment (including Alzheimer's Disease) -- by nearly 2½ times.

The results of the study were published in the August 2007 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Dr. Boustani cautions that this is not the final word on H2-receptor blockers, and further research is needed to determine how acid reducers contribute to mental decline. According to Dr. Boustani, one theory is that H2-receptor blockers might be blocking the cholinergic system in the brain (the system of nerve cells that uses acetylcholine as its neurotransmitter and is damaged in the brains of people with dementia). Another theory is that they might interfere with the absorption of vitamins such as B-12, which might in turn interfere with cognitive processes.

STAYING SAFE

Even though doctors don't know why, the results seem to stand for themselves. While some people need to take acid-reducing drugs for a period of time when they have stomach ulcers (most ulcers heal with medication in six to eight weeks, but recurrence is common), many mistakenly rely on them afterward for heartburn. They may help soothe symptoms in the short term, but they can lead to far worse long-term problems. Better is to limit use of acid-reducing or acid-suppressing medications and find more healthful ways to manage gastric distress. (For more on how acid-reducing drugs interfere with digestion and health, see Daily Health News, April 11, 2006.) And since there is no treatment that cures or reverses dementia at present, it is particularly important for older people to take every possible step they can to prevent its development.

Source(s):

Malaz A. Boustani, MD, MPH, director of research operations, Indianapolis Discovery Network for Dementia, research scientist, Regenstrief Institute, Inc., scientist, Indiana University Center for Aging Research.

Hope this helps,

T.
www.livetotalwellness.com/T.

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J.D.

answers from Los Angeles on

Have her checked for allergies, especially to dairy. I bet she's lactose intolerant. Try raising the head of her bed by 6" also and make sure her last meal is at least 2 hours before she goes to bed.

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S.M.

answers from San Diego on

I'm not familiar with children and reflux, but being a student of natural medicine, I do find that digestive disorders like poor stomach acid production contribute greatly to reflux. What happens is that when food is in the stomach, it cannot be broken down, so the stomach begins to churn the food and it comes back up as acid and undigestable food that's partly broken down, damaging or irritating the esophagus. I would think the answer would be to assist digestion by either following the blood-type diet for her blood-type, investigating food-combining diets (some foods digest better together, some don't), considering an elimination diet (removing certain foods like wheat or dairy products) to see if that helps. I also personally find that certain foods give me the reflux more than others, things that are more acidic, like lemon juice, pickles, some italian foods, and dairy can do it if you are lactose intolerant. Also, some acidophilus is really beneficial to her digestive system, and digestive enzymes can assist with digestion safely. You can get tasty, chewable ones (enzymes) at the health foods store. Just don't use too much bromelain (check labels), it can cause liver break-down over time. Bromelain is the natural enzyme found in pineapple.

The problem with acid-reducers is that they mask the problem, rather than solve it, and if the problem is already too little stomach acid/enzymes, then it is not a cure. We need the stomach juices to help digest and break down minerals and such. The last thing I suggest is being sure she is chewing really well, eating slowly, small portions, and possibly less raw veggies and hard to digest foods like tough meats such as steak, pork chops, etc. Ground beef, cut-up chicken breast or turkey, mashed potatoes, applesauce, soft cooked veggies, white rice, cottage cheese, etc., these are good. Also, no lying down after eating, and avoid citric acid and ascorbic acid (vitamin c) found in many foods/drinks and vitamins. As an alternative, Ester-C is safe and buffered for stomach comfort and better absorption. They may also have some natural stomach-calming remedies at the health foods store for children. A little (2 T.) of aloe vera juice at bedtime also greatly heals and soothes the stomach. Find some without the two acids I just mentioned, if you can. It can be combined with grape juice (for example) to hide it. It also promotes sleep and healthy immunity.

I am only mentioning these things for your consideration. You can surely give her some short-term relief with the drugs. I am not your child's doctor and you have to do what you can, but consider investigating some of these things to see if you can make progress in other directions.

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D.A.

answers from Los Angeles on

L.
I would get a 2nd or 3rd opinion before I would any one "new" experimental medicines (drugs) on the market today. I would never give it to a 2 year old no matter what their doctors say. Just please keep in mind doctors PRACTICE medicine, that's the term you hear THEM say. Everyone makes mistakes.they told me the same thing about my daughter when she was 2 and it turned out they were wrong. She had a stomach ache and nothing that a little Childrens Mylanta couldn't help. She couldn't explain her pain correctly to dr after all she was too young or he was not a good enough listener and had new equipment he wanted to try out. They again mis-diagnosed her when she was 3 because she had Pnuemonia but doc didint catch it,because he forgot to x-ray her lung, she had to be hospitalized for 3 days after having to take her back an hour later! Also I suggest you go online and find out what reflux is on your own. I think its something else(ie maybe can't lay down while drinking?) That's what I did to determine her illness while asking her questions just like the dr did. You know better than any other person (doc) about your children and you have a sixth sense about them that your doctor definetely won't have.
My boss who is 38 was daignosed with reflux and he is not taking any medicine(drugs) for it, he just learned what it was that causes it and stopped that behavior.for him it was eating foods with a lot of acid right before bed like spaghetti which he loves.
All the best,
Deb

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T.L.

answers from Los Angeles on

Please take the advice seriously of the moms that said be careful with the meds. I especially like Teresa A's and Sarah M's responses.
I had a baby with reflux, before meds were popular, so thankfully we worked through it with natural methods, like keeping him upright, food elimination, etc.
But I personally had a reflux problem and took Nexium off and on for over a year. Then I mysteriously developed serious nerve damage and cognitive impairment and am an otherwise very healthy 34 year old. It's been a nightmare, and am now learning of the possible connection of acid reflux meds to my condition. I would be SO hesitant to give anything like this now to a young baby or child after what it possibly did to me, a healthy adult. Just remember, with any medicine, there is ALWAYS a side effect or many side effects. Think homeostasis and checks and balances. Anytime you disrupt the body's equilibrium, it will affect many other systems!

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C.H.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi L.

My daughter has reflux too. She was diagnosed at 4 months old, and was put on Zantac. Zantac did not seem to help with her symptoms, but instead it made her constipated. So I stopped giving her Zantac after 2 weeks. Later on when her reflux got worse, her pediatritian put her on Prevacid, which seems to work a little better. She is now 13 months old, and has been on Prevacid since 10 months. Here is a little bit of what I learned:
1. Both Zantac and Prevacid control acid production, but Prevacid is stronger and works for 24 hours ( so she only takes it once a day).
2. Neither medication stops the food from coming up; it only works to reduce the stomach acid, hence reducing the irritation and pain caused by reflux.
3. Even though the medicine does not stop the reflux, it is still important to give it to her because the constant irritation from acid in the esophogas can cause long term damage and possibly cancer later on in life (per pediatrition).
4. Give her Prevacid on empty stomach! I used to nurse my girl first thing in the morning then give her the meds. Prevacid did not work well then, and after listening to her GI specialist, I gave her the medicine first and nursed her 15 mins after. It works so much better.
5. My daugther had both the upper GI track X-ray and the gastric emptying scan done. The upper GI test did not show reflux, though the GI doctor thinks that it is not a good test for reflux. She has a bigger issue which is the emptying delay, and it has caused her to not eat much at all. Anyway, if the upper GI test does not show your daughter has reflux, it doesn't neccesarily mean she doesn't have it.

Hope this helps! Caroline

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T.K.

answers from Los Angeles on

My son has had reflux since he was born. I never wanted to medicate but at four months he spit up blood because the lining of his esophagus was bleeding from the reflux. He has been on prevacid and it change his life dramatically. The drug is approved by the FDA for use in toddlers not infants although many GI's prescribe to infants with success. I also use probiotics, I'm not sure how much they help with reflux but do help with constipation which can irritate a child's reflux. Prior to the medication he would scream for 1/2 hour straight 8 times a day, nothing could stop the crying until the medication. I am not a big fan of medication..I do not take any medication I even had a natural child birth but this medicine really helped my son. My son has had an upper and lower Gi at four months, not too bad. To my knowledge the upper gi does not confirm reflux but checks for structural abnormalities or other issues that could be causing problems. My son still has occasional episodes of pain....mostly at night but for the most part is feeling much better. (13.5 months) Hopefully we will be able to get off the medication soon. Reflux has been very challenging for our family, for the first few months all my son did was cry. Once on the medication we had so much improvement but there were still times when the medicine needed to be adjusted or the episodes of pain would return. Good luck

Here is a website about reflux www.infantrefluxdisease.com and there is also a book that is helpful Colic Solved.

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J.L.

answers from San Diego on

Hi L., I would go on line nd look up some natual cures for that, 23 months is young to start medicating on a regular basis, also don't give her acidetic foods, give her apples and bananas, not oranges or orange juice, no pineapple, don't seson her food, no salt, no spices. see if that helps any. Let me know how things turn out. J.

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D.G.

answers from Los Angeles on

My daughter was diagnosed at 10 days old with severe reflux. She actually choked and stopped breathing. We put her on Zantac. I was concerned to give my baby medicine, but it helped so much. We decided when she was 2 years old to try her off of it, but unfortunetly we had to put her back on. We have not had the Upper GI done, though. I just felt it was too much for her little body. She's now almost 4 and still on Zantac, but only once at night. My son now 3 months was just put on Zantac as well. It gets better and your kid is not in pain, which is the most important thing. She may eventually grow out of it. Most kids do. Your doing the right thing. I was scared too. I know your daughter is much more comfortable on the medicine, than not. Good luck.

S.I.

answers from Phoenix on

Dear L.,

I second the comments from Vera F. Acid reflux medications DO inhibit the body's ability to break down/metabolize food. And, if taken over a long period of time, they have been scientifically documented to (1) promote the development of esophageal cancer and, most recently, (2) be correlated with increased mental confusion, possibly due to a lack of B12 that results from taking these drugs. I can give you the medical lit references on these if you want.

There is a trend in the U.S. towards overmedication of young children, and there hasn't been enough long-term research done on the safety issues.

Among my own (adult) patients, reflux is more often than not due to either consumption of the wrong foods, or a lack of digestive enzymes. Even people who have inherent tendencies toward stomach and GI troubles can reduce the problems by bettering their diets. Eliminating processed and sugared foods, cutting back on dairy, and including more vegetables and whole grains in the diet will make a big difference.

Best of luck to you!

S. I., L.Ac.
Lotus Wellspring Healthcare
456 E. Mission Road, Suite 100
San Marcos, CA 92069
###-###-####
[email protected]____.com
www.lotuswellspring.com

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D.B.

answers from San Diego on

My son was diagnosed with reflux at his 4 month check up after the Dr saw him projectile vomit right in the exam room - I told him this had been going on at his 2 month check up, but he felt it was normal until he saw it for himself :) Anyway- after 4 long months of all day "colic" my son FINALLY started feeling better after a few days on Prilosec - which is a liquid form (not sure how they give Prevasid), he HATED the taste of it and would spit it up, so I ended up having to add it to an ounce of two of formula and then pray he didn't reflux it back up in less then 20 minutes (they told me to re-dose if he spit it back up prior to 20 minutes), anyway - he seems to be doing a lot better now, it took about 2 full weeks to really know he was feeling better- but he still spits up a ton, but he isn't crying as much and you can tell he is way more comfortable...I wish I had put him on the meds earlier, I just thought it was "colic" and that babies spit up...little did I know he was in pain all the time....use the meds, and don't worry about it if it helps - if it doesn't do anything, then you can always stop them - but give it at least 2 weeks, even if the doctor says a week....:) good luck!
PS- I haven't noticed any side effects - and I would go ahead and let them do the GI just to be sure, that way there is no guessing involved.....

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A.G.

answers from Las Vegas on

I would do the upper GI to make sure she does in fact have reflux. A lot of kids and babies are overly diagnosed.

My daughter had reflux, from about 4 weeks until she pretty much outgrew it when she was eating more solid foods. Prevacid was a lifesaver for us! She no longer needed it past about 12 months of age though. She did not have any side effects I remember and it helped her tremendously. We took it to a compounding pharmacy and they made it up into a liquid and flavored it.

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A.S.

answers from San Diego on

My daughter was diagnosed with reflux since she was born and has had some version of all of the symptoms listed by a previous responder. She started prevacid at 2 weeks old, and is still on it now at 2 1/2 yrs old. Multiple times we've come "off" to see if the reflux is still there, and within a day the hiccups start and the irritability associated with the acid.

It sounds like your doctor is being thorough, and while the Upper GI will be a yucky experience it will give you the definitive answer you need. As for side effects of the prevacid, I've seen none. I hope I answered your questions and everything goes well with your little girl!

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S.L.

answers from San Diego on

Yes! I have lots of experience with it and it was a nightmare for us. Your best bet is to find a pediatrician or peds group with lots of experience with it - it varies from doctor to doctor. Then go to reflux.org and join a local group.
Just quickly - my ped knew nothing about it - he was older generation pediatrician, close to retirement. My daughter came home screaming from the hospital and did not stop until she was 2+ years old. My doc did not even think to put her on meds, but tried to diagnose for everything else- did not think that reflux could cause her so much pain. Side effects? plenty - my daughter was in pain constantly, cried and vomited large volumes of coagulated milk that got stuck in all of her orifices. You have to be careful of ASPIRATION in the lungs when she vomits. Every time she started to cry we ran because she would choke on her vomit - it was stuck in her throat and nose and she would turn blue from not getting oxygen. I used the bulb for her nose and fingers in her mouth to pull the stuff out. We were literally on pins and needles 24 hours/day, 365 days/year. Oh, yeah, we never got to bond with her because she did not like being touched or cuddled (thank goodness she did after growing out of it) but for my first baby I never got to experience what the other mothers were experiencing. Because she was in so much pain and her throat too from 5 large vomits/day (every couple of hours around the clock) she never ate solid foods - I tried every single day - until she was over 2 years old. But think of how any of us would feel vomiting that much 24 hrs/day 7 days a week. She wanted to nurse constantly to alleviate the pain but even then she would scream a couple of minutes into the feeding. Because she nursed constantly, she never learned how to be satiated and now at 8 years of age she does not know when to stop eating and I have to monitor her. Also, because of the constant pain, she NEVER slept through the night; in fact, she never slept more than 20-45 minutes at the most, at a time. This went on until she finally outgrew the reflux. Some kids outgrow it early, some not until they are 7 or 8. I just wish I had had a more knowledgeable pediatrician (I switched before my second child) and that I had found "reflux.org" earlier instead of after she had already grown out of it. Take the meds! Good luck. ps we could not leave our daughter with even family until she grew out of the reflux, let alone a babysitter. If you look into shaken baby syndrome you'll find that most of the victims also had reflux.

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V.J.

answers from Santa Barbara on

Check with a naturpath, I wouldn´t put a child on any medication, as holistic WORKS. I know there is a reflex pressure point in the middle of the chest a good shiatzu, or acupuncturist could address. Noninvasive like drugs.

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S.F.

answers from Boston on

Dear L.,
If your daughter does not appear to have a lot of pain from the reflux, I would first do anything in your power to try natural methods of working with this. In our case, our son cried (screamed) from the first time I breastfed him until we broke down and put him on zantac when he was about 10 weeks old. I think the medication just helped a little, but between that and me eating about 5 different boiled, "safe" foods, almost constantly holding him upright- even while he slept- we were able to just manage with a moaning, stiff baby until he outgrew it- thankfully at about 10 months. So I do think there are times when the risks of these medications are worth taking for a short period of time. If your daughter is not terribly uncomfortable, I would start with many of the suggestions you received here. In addition, I have heard some amazing stories of reflux being cured in one chiropractic adjustment- from many, many sources. I would encourage you to find a highly recommended chiropractor in your area and start there. In addition, do try the probiotics- it can create some constipation as well, but some people have had great success with this. It does appear that this refux is often connected to a food intolerance. Maybe you can start logging everything you feed your little one and see if you can start seeing some patterns of foods that make it worse. I do feel for you- this is a largely "figure it out yourself" area of medicine and I personally felt very alone in the process of getting our son to feel better. The best of luck to you- I look forward to hearing how it all turned out.
S.

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L.C.

answers from Los Angeles on

Check for food allergies.

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K.D.

answers from Los Angeles on

My baby had G.E.R. and was placed on medication from the time she was born. It runs in our family and all of the children have had it.

The problem stopped when the medication was started so we felt the G.I.test was unnessary.

I only gave my daughter the medication if she looked like she was uncomfortable. She is fine now. It stopped just after she turned a year old.

Hope that helps,
K.

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M.S.

answers from San Diego on

Hi there!

If you don't feel confident in what your pediatrician has told you, you might get a second opinion from a pediatric gastrointerologist. I'm sure once she is on meds she will feel much better!

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J.M.

answers from Reno on

Hi L.,
I had one daughter with colic and my second had reflux. I remember being in the doctor's office constantly. I know all about the worry over whether or not they will choke in the middle of the night. My doctor suggested I stop nursing and try the formula, Alimentum (?). When that didn't work, I was finally referred to a GI specialist who told me that if I had been referred earlier I could have continued to nurse. All that would have been needed was for me to take a digestive enzyme that would have come through my breast milk. I was told that my children just lacked an essential digestive enzyme that breaks down the milk protien. Needless to say, it was to late to nurse, as my milk was gone. The only thing to do at that point was to put rice cereal in the bottles to make the formula very thick. That worked wonders and I ended up with a new happy baby and long sleep filled nights. I was uncomfortable with giving her the Tagamet that was prescribed for her, so I didn't use it. Being that your little one is almost two, he/she could take the enzymes. They are safe and natural and they have some chewable ones that taste pretty good. Best of luck to you.

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T.

answers from Las Vegas on

L.,

My now 19 month old was diagnoses with reflux at 4 weeks old and was on Prevacid until he was about 1. In our case he also had a severe intolerance to dairy and an allergy to soy. Once we figured that out and eliminated those things from my diet (I was nursing and did a strict elimination diet to figure out what was causing the problem) he improved dramatically. Until we got his food issues under control, treating his reflux was like throwing a bucket of water at a forest fire. Beyond the prevacid (and the diet), we didn't do any testing or treatment. My son is still dairy and soy free and as long as he stays that way, he does well. If he eats dairy or soy he screams and screams and the vomiting/spitting up and pain starts.

So you may want to explore food intolerances. If your daughter is intolerant to something and you eliminate it, it will make a huge difference. I will warn you that doctors (even pediatric GI doctors) are a horrible source of information on food intolerances and allergies. They really act like it is a myth that kids can have issues with foods. The only way to know for sure if your kid is intolerant to foods is to do an elimination diet and then start adding foods back one at a time to see if she reacts to anything. There are tests that can be done but they are really unreliable so I opted to not do them. I'd rather do something non-invasive and harmless like a special diet when ever possible.

Intolerances and allergies are both immune responses but different types of responses. Intolerances usually involve the GI tract (so you get symptons like diarrhea, vomiting, heartburn, spitting up, lots of gas, etc...), actual allergies can involve things like hives as well as GI response. From a practical standpoint whether your kid is intolerant or allergic, it makes them miserable.

If you want more info you can email me at [email protected]____.com
T.

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N.S.

answers from San Diego on

Hi L.,

Before you do anything invasive, please google chiropractic and reflux........my chiropractor has successfully treated infants with just a couple of adjustments. He said that during the birthing process their can be misalignment of the spine that leads to reflux.

Best wishes!

D.C.

answers from Los Angeles on

I thought my daughter had acid reflux as well and I took her to the doctors and they gave her the upper gi test but she wasn't prescribed any medication. What they suggested was to give her food in smaller portions and stay away from things that make her gag such as large portions of pastas and breads and we started doing that and she was fine, she hasn't had any problems with throwing up or keeping her food down.

Have you gone to get a second opinion from another doctor? I would suggest trying that before starting her on medication, she just seems so young to start medication. My doctor told me that my daughter could grow out of the issue as time goes on and it would seem that your daughter could possibly grow out of her issue as well.

What did they say qualified her as having reflux? Do tons of research online on webmd.com before starting that medication for long term. She's not even two yet, I don't know how safe that is to give that kind of medication. That makes me nervous.

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H.S.

answers from Los Angeles on

My baby was diagnosed with acid reflux very early on (8 weeks or so) and eventually it went away at about 5-6 months old. We gave her medicine, I can't remember the name of it right now, but it wasn't prevacid but it was a prescription medicine for reflux. She had no side effects. She did trade her reflux in for constipation, but the GI specialist wasn't sure it was related at all (that too eventually resolved after about a year with the help of stool softeners) The most frustrating thing is you just don't know when it'll stop, it may stop in a few months or a few years, no way to tell. However, the medication part is fantastic, for us it was like getting a whole new baby once she was on the medication, it was wonderful and I was so thankful we did it. Good luck and I hope it goes away soon.

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K.Y.

answers from Los Angeles on

My son has silent acid reflux. The same thing as regular acid reflux except what comes up doesn't come out, it just goes back down. I'm not familiar with prevacid. My doctor prescrived "baby" zantac (rantidine is the generic). It's a liquid form and I give 1 ml. to my son twice a day. It's been a godsend. He used to writh in pain, have extreme trouble with upper and lower gas. I had begun to dread putting my son to sleep at night. Once we started the medicine, it was awesome. The only downside is that it tastes TERRIBLE. However, once my son got used to it he just takes it without any problems. He seems to actually enjoy it, if that's possible. Good luck. I hope that your daughter will get some relief.

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