Symptoms & Diagnosis of GERD in Teens

Do I Have GERD?

Acid reflux (also called gastroesophageal reflux or GER) occurs when stomach contents go up into the esophagus (the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach), during or after a meal.

It happens to everyone on occasion, but if it happens too often, it can cause irritation or damage to your esophagus. That’s when it becomes gastroesophageal reflux or GERD.

GERD Symptoms in Kids and Teenagers include:

  • Hoarseness
  • Frequent regurgitation (stomach contents go into the mouth and are swallowed again)
  • Difficult or painful swallowing
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Recurrent pneumonia

If you are experiencing these symptoms, discuss them with your family doctor or ask your parents to help you find a pediatric gastroenterologist near you.

Diagnosing GERD in Teenagers and Kids:

When you go to the doctor, you’ll get a physical examination, and the doctor will ask about your symptoms. Sometimes the doctor will also recommend tests to determine if reflux is the cause of your symptoms. These tests check the esophagus, stomach and small intestine to see if there are any problems. Common tests include:

  • X-Rays: Barium (a chalky drink) is swallowed and X-rays show the shape of the esophagus and stomach.
  • Endoscopy: The patient receives medication so they are asleep, Then, a small flexible tube with a very tiny camera is inserted through the mouth and down into the esophagus and stomach. The doctor can examine the lining of the esophagus, stomach and part of the small intestine. If necessary, the doctor can also take small pieces of the lining (biopsies), which will be examined with a microscope, looking for inflammation and other problems. This procedure is painless for the patient.
  • Esophageal pH Probe: A thin light wire with an acid sensor at its tip is inserted through the nose into the lower part of the esophagus. The probe can detect the amount of stomach acid coming up into the esophagus and can tell if there is acid in the esophagus.

Featured Resources

PDF Downloads

North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition
The Association of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition Nurses
North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition Foundation
The NASPGHAN Council For Pediatric Nutrition Professionals
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