Disclaimer: This is mother to mother advice. Ensure any treatment is discussed with a doctor or qualified medical practitioner.
If you think your baby has acid reflux it is a good idea to go to your doctor and get some help. It is best if you can get referred to a specialist. It can help a lot over the next year of your baby’s life to feel that there is someone who understands this medical condition and is there to help. Do make sure that you are happy with the doctor and if necessary explain how bad the pain and the sleeping can be for you and your family. The worst thing you can do is pretend it’s nothing at all. Help the people who are there to help you. They need to understand fully what it is like for the baby and what it is like for you. Acid reflux requires symptom- based diagnosis. The doctor needs you to describe the symptoms fully and accurately to be able to help. Think about it before you leave home and write down the information you think is important. Here are some things to think about for infant reflux treatment.
This is most commonly given. The active ingredients of Gaviscon are not absorbed into the bloodstream but react with the content of the stomach to form a gel. This makes the content thicker and less likely to be regurgitated back up the food pipe. There is, however, a side effect with babies of all ages and that is constipation. In itself it can increase the problem of reflux. Do talk to your doctor (or preferably paediatrician) as it may be better to use another kind of medication if your baby has relatively severe reflux.
The stomach produces acid as a natural part of its digestive process. Ranitidine works by blocking the cells of the stomach lining from producing this acid. As it is often this acid flowing back into the oesophagus, the food pipe, which causes the pain (known as heartburn) then a reduction in stomach acid can help diminish your baby’s pain.
Domperidone’s actions effectively speed up the passage of food through the stomach into the intestine, which can help to prevent vomiting and bloating. It also prevents food from flowing the wrong way through the stomach and so diminishes the reflux, the regurgitation of the stomach content back up into the mouth. However, your baby needs to be heavy enough to have this as it cannot be given to small babies, so it will probably not be given until six months or even later depending on the size of your baby.
This is sometimes known as the “Royal” drug for heartburn. It cannot be given until your baby is heavy enough, probably six months or even older if your baby is small. It does not always work for all children. Each child reacts differently to different medication. Omeprazole works as a proton pump inhibitor. Like Ranitidine it reduces the production of stomach acid. A baby should not be given both omeprazole and ranitidine at the same time. As with Ranitidine, it helps prevent acid in the food pipe and mouth, which helps prevent heartburn and also allows a raw oesophagus to heal if there has been bad reflux for a period of time.
Over the counter medicine
Painkillers for babies cannot be used very often as the heartburn is a long term problem. If desperate for some sleep it can be used, as long as you follow the instructions carefully and have consulted your doctor. However, the liquid itself can trigger heartburn so may counteract its usefulness.
Infacol, gripe water and weak fennel tea can all help with general baby tummy troubles, wind and colic. Anything that you find helpful to diminish other baby tummy ache is helpful in the early stages. Once the baby is older than three months you will probably find that other baby tummy aches settle down and you are left to deal with a single pain problem, the reflux.
Lifestyle and management of the problem is easily as important as the medication for your baby.
NONE of the above medication should be given without professional medical advice from a doctor or preferably a paediatrician. It is also important to tell your doctor the effect that the medication is having so they can find the most effective one or combination for your child.
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