When Is It Time to Get Your Child's Acid Reflux Checked By A Doctor?
If your doctor thinks your child might have GERD it can be a huge learning curve. Many parents do not understand the diagnosis let alone how it can be determined in a child that can not even communicate. Yet, submitting to numerous tests seems like cruel and unusual punishment for a tiny baby, can be extremely expensive and may not be needed in all cases. So when do you know it is time to pursue further testing?
The Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association (PAGER) has some common sense tips in their Reading Room regarding testing:
"Don't conduct tests that will only tell you something you already know... Tests are expensive and there is always a small amount of risk. And no child should be subjected to them without first carefully considering whether they are likely to add valuable information and whether that information is likely to change the treatment planned."
If your doctor recommends testing it is wise to ask these questions:
1. What are you hoping to learn from this test that we do not already know?
2. Will the results of this test change my child's treatment plan?
3. What are the risks of this test and do they outweigh the benefit of the information learned?
4. Is the facility at which my child's test are scheduled skilled at handling pediatric patients? If your answer is "no" to this question that does not mean the test is not warranted but only suggests you may need to look for an alternate facility to have the test conducted.
All of that having been said, there is definitely an appropriate time for testing. We have dealt with two "reflux babies" at our house and both have had additional testing. Our reasons for additional testing included:
1. Excessive pain in combination with other symptoms that do not resolve with basic treatment or time and/or affect the quality of life.
2. Excessive amounts of vomiting that affect growth and development. Our children both experienced varying degrees of Failure to Thrive (FTT).
3. The presence of additional disease states or symptoms that could signal more complicated GERD. Some of these things might include but are not limited to: apnea, serious choking or swallowing issues, asthma or reactive airway disease (RAD), frequent infections of the sinuses or ears and a history of food allergies or other allergic conditions.
While this blog is not intended to be an exhaustive list I hope that it will provide you with some tips to weight the pros and cons for testing your child. Tune in next month as we discuss the most frequently used tests in pediatric GERD.