• Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease—Adolescent

    (GERD—Adolescent; Chronic Heartburn—Adolescent; Reflux Esophagitis—Adolescent; Gastro-oesophageal Reflux Disease—Adolescent; GORD—Adolescent; Reflux—Adolescent)


    Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a disorder that results in food and stomach acid backing up into the esophagus from the stomach. GERD requires treatment to avoid complications, such as esophageal damage.
    Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
    si1347 97870 1 gerd
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


    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 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:
    • 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

    Risk Factors

    Factors that may increase your teen's chance of GERD include:
    • Obesity
    • Smoking
    • Alcohol use
    • History of a hernia
    • Neurological impairments


    GERD may cause:
    • Chronic heartburn—most common symptom
    • Regurgitation
    • Abdominal or chest pain
    • Vomiting
    • Difficulty swallowing
    • Dry cough
    • Hoarseness
    • Sore throat
    • Recurrent aspiration pneumonia or worsening asthma
    • Weight loss, lack of appetite


    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:


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

    Lifestyle Changes

    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:
    • Chocolate
    • Fried foods
    • Peppermint
    • Spicy foods
    • Caffeine products
    • Carbonated drinks
    • Foods high in fat and acid
    • Alcohol


    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:
    • Antacids
    • H-2 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.


    There are no current guidelines to prevent GERD.


    Children’s Digestive Health and Nutrition Foundation http://cdhnf.org

    National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov


    About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca

    Canadian Digestive Health Foundation http://www.cdhf.ca


    Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated April 29, 2013. Accessed April 30, 2013.

    Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Nemours Kids Health website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/teen/diseases%5Fconditions/digestive/gerd.html. Updated June 2011. Accessed April 30, 2013.

    Gastroesophageal reflux in children and adolescents. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/digestive-diseases/ger-and-gerd-in-children-and-adolescents/Pages/facts.aspx. Updated February 21, 2012. Accessed April 30, 2013.

    GERD in children and adolescents. Children’s Digestive Health and Nutrition Foundation website. Available at: http://gerd.cdhnf.org/User/Docs/PDF/AdolesGERDFlier.pdf. Accessed May 19, 2008.

    Pediatric GE reflux clinical practice guidelines. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2001;32:S1-S31.

    3/1/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Maalox Total Relief and Maalox liquid products: medication use errors. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/SafetyInformation/SafetyAlertsforHumanMedicalProducts/ucm200672.htm. Published February 17, 2010. Accessed April 30, 2013.

    1/20/2015 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease: recognition, diagnosis and management in children and young people. January 2015. Available at: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng1. Accessed January 20, 2015.

    Revision Information

  • LiveWell personal health survey

    How healthy are you really? Find out – free.Learn more

    It's time to stop guessing. If you want to make some changes but just aren't sure how, the free personal health survey from LiveWell is a great place to start.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease and prevent heart attacks. HeartSHAPE® is a painless, non-invasive test that checks pictures of your heart for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.

  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.