Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease in Children with Disabilities

(GERD—Child With Disabilities; Chronic Heartburn—Child With Disabilities; Reflux Esophagitis—Child With Disabilities; Gastro-oesophageal Reflux Disease—Child With Disabilities; GORD—Child With Disabilities; Reflux—Child With Disabilities)

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Definition

Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) is the back up of acid or food from the stomach to the esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that connects the mouth and stomach. GER is common in infants. It may cause them to spit up. Most infants outgrow GER within 12 months.GER that progresses to esophageal injury and other symptoms is called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The backed-up acid irritates the lining of the esophagus. It causes heartburn, a pain in the stomach and chest. GERD requires treatment to avoid complications.GERD can occur at any age.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
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Causes

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

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