Gastroesophageal Reflux: Signs and Symptoms

What are the signs and symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux?

Reflux is a normal process that occurs when the muscle at the top of the stomach relaxes and allows the contents of the stomach to pass back up into the esophagus. It most often occurs after meals, and most of the time there are no symptoms or complaints associated with the episodes. Children can have symptoms associated with reflux when they have many reflux episodes or the esophagus becomes irritated by the acid reflux.

Some of the complaints children with reflux have are heartburn, upper abdominal abdomen, chest pain, pain with swallowing, food becoming stuck in the throat, regurgitation, spitting up and vomiting. Reflux can cause sore throat and hoarseness. It may also cause sinusitis, ear infections and chronic cough.

Reflux can cause scarring of the esophagus, called a stricture, however this usually occurs only after years of chronic reflux or when a child has had previous surgery on the esophagus. Stricture causes difficulty with swallowing solids in particular.