Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease -- Adolescent

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a disorder that results from food and stomach acid backing up into the esophagus from the stomach. This condition can cause serious health issues. Treatment for GERD includes lifestyle changes, medications, and sometimes surgery.

  • Causes

    The valve between the esophagus and stomach opens to let food enter the stomach. With GERD, the valve doesn't close as tightly as it normally should. This causes acid reflux, a burning sensation that can be felt below the breastbone.

    The following factors contribute to GERD:

    • Abnormal pressure to the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a valve that keeps food in the stomach
    • Increased relaxation of LES
    • Increased pressure within the abdomen

  • Definition

    Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a disorder that results from food and stomach acid backing up into the esophagus from the stomach.

    This condition can cause serious health issues. Treatment for GERD includes lifestyle changes, medications, and sometimes surgery.

    Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
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  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your teen’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

    Tests may include:

    • 24-hour pH monitoring—a probe is placed in the esophagus to keep track of the level of acidity in the lower esophagus
    • Short trial of medication—helps confirm diagnosis if GERD symptoms are relieved during the trial period

    Images of internal body structures may be taken with:

    • Upper GI series
    • Upper endoscopy
      with biopsy

  • Prevention

    There are no current guidelines to prevent GERD.

  • Risk Factors

    The following may increase the risk of GERD in adolescents:

    • Obesity
    • Smoking
    • Alcohol

  • Symptoms

    Adolescent GERD may cause:

    • Heartburn
    • Regurgitation
    • Abdominal or chest pain
    • Vomiting
    • Difficulty swallowing
    • Dry cough
    • Raspy voice
    • Sore throat

    • Recurrent
      pneumonia
      or worsening
      asthma
    • Weight loss, lack of appetite

  • Treatment

    Treatment options vary based on the severity of the GERD. Options may include one or more of the following: