Adults aren't the only ones who can suffer from heartburn. Children can also get that burning feeling that makes its way from the chest into the neck and throat through a tube called the esophagus. Stomach acid can irritate the esophagus. People who have recurrent bouts of severe heartburn may have gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. GERD is commonly referred to as acid reflux. Several over-the-counter heartburn remedies offer children relief from heartburn.
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The unpleasant feeling of indigestion and heartburn can extend beyond pain and burning. Children may also have an upset stomach, bloating and uncontrolled belching. Treatment for heartburn and acid reflux will depend on the child's symptoms and age.
Your health care provider may recommend an antacid medication when heartburn makes a child or teen uncomfortable and/or interferes with eating or sleeping. Antacids neutralize stomach acid and provide fast, but short-term, relief. H2-blockers or H2- receptor agonists, such as ranitidin, famotidine and nizatidine, help prevent acid from backing up into the esophagus. H2-blockers are commonly used to relieve heartburn in children because they're available in liquid form. Proton-pump inhibitors or PPIs prevent the production of stomach acid. Examples of over-the-counter PPIs include esomeprazole and rabeprazole.
Caffeine, citrus fruits, garlic, onions and spicy foods can all make heartburn worse. Pizza, chili and other tomato-based foods should also be avoided to prevent symptoms. Eating frequent smaller meals and limiting food a couple of hours before bed can help relieve symptoms. Elevating your child's bed 6 to 8 inches by setting blocks of wood under the bed can help calm burning sensation as well, explains the National Digestive Information Clearinghouse.
Antacids may cause minor side effects including nausea, diarrhea, constipation and headaches. Taking more than one heartburn medication at a time is not advised unless your doctor specifically recommends it, according to FamilyDoctor.org, a website published by the American Academy of Family Physicians. Children who take H-2 blockers and PPIs may face an increased risk of certain intestinal and respiratory infections. Talk to your health care provider about age-appropriate OTC heartburn relief for your child. Smaller doses of medication may be advised for children.