Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease Adolescent
The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a muscular ring between the esophagus and the stomach. It relaxes to let food pass into the stomach, then closes shut to prevent it from backing up. With GERD, the ring does not 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:
- Problems with the nerves that control the LES
- Problems with LES muscle tone
- Impaired peristalsis—muscular contractions that propel food toward the stomach
- Abnormal pressure on the LES
- Increased relaxation of the LES
- Increased pressure within the abdomen
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 acid in the lower esophagus
- Short trial of medications—success or failure of medication may help your doctor understand the cause
Imaging tests can assess LES function and surrounding structures. These may include:
- Upper GI series—x-rays using contrast material that is swallowed
- Upper endoscopy with biopsy
Treatment options vary based on the severity of the GERD. Options may include one or more of the following:
This may be all that is needed to relieve GERD symptoms. In some cases, these may be recommended before medication is prescribed. These changes can be tailored to an individual person based on their habits. Lifestyle changes include:
- Eating smaller, more frequent meals.
- Avoiding overeating.
- Avoiding late night meals.
- Sleeping with the head of the bed elevated.
- Avoiding lying down within 2-3 hours after eating.
- Wearing looser clothing that doesn't bind the stomach area.
- Losing weight if needed.
- Quitting smoking.
Foods and drinks to avoid may include:
- Fried foods
- Spicy foods
- Caffeine products
- Carbonated drinks
- Foods high in fat and acid
Medication may be needed to relieve symptoms and heal any damage to the esophagus. Many medications for GERD are available over-the-counter and by prescription. Your teen's doctor may recommend the following:
- H2 blockers
- Proton pump inhibitors
In more severe cases, the doctor may recommend surgery or endoscopy.
The most common surgery is called fundoplication. During this procedure, the surgeon wraps part of the stomach around the LES. This makes the LES stronger and prevents stomach acid from backing up into the esophagus.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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a (GERD—Adolescent; Chronic Heartburn—Adolescent; Reflux Esophagitis—Adolescent; Gastro-oesophageal Reflux Disease—Adolescent; GORD—Adolescent; Reflux—Adolescent)
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease/Heartburn—Overview
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease—Child
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease—Infant
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease—Children with Disabilities
NASPGHAN—North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition https://www.naspghan.org
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases https://www.niddk.nih.gov
About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca
Canadian Digestive Health Foundation http://www.cdhf.ca
Acid reflux (GER & GERD) in children & teens. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/acid-reflux-ger-gerd-children-teens. Accessed April 4, 2018.
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Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/en/teens/gerd.html. Updated January 2015. Accessed April 4, 2018.
1/20/2015 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116914/Gastroesophageal-reflux-disease-GERD : National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease in children and young people: diagnosis and management. Available at: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng1. Updated January 2015.