Sometimes babies can have silent reflux. This is when stomach acid flows up, ending up in the food pipe, but unlike normal reflux it doesn’t result in any visible vomiting.
It’s called silent reflux since typically there’s no clear sign of the reflux itself, only the traces left by the corrosive stomach acid burning the food pipe.
Symptoms of silent reflux in babies
Silent reflux in the baby doesn’t necessarily produce common reflux symptoms like heartburn or vomiting. Instead more diffuse symptoms might appear, like thick phlegm in the throat or unusual amounts of saliva. The baby might also be sore in the throat.
Trouble with sleep
The baby can have trouble relaxing when lying down. It usually sleeps in short periods in both daytime and nighttime. It wakes up crying, and prefers to be held upright. This is since the stomach acid can cause pain. ‘Wet burps” and hiccups might also happen.
The diving reflex
If the stomach acid reaches the nose, the baby’s natural ‘diving reflex’ sets in. When this happens it might seem like the baby is losing breath and gasping for air. Usually this happens when the baby is lying down. It’s a common symptom and it’s not dangerous.
Crying during breastfeeding
Eating can also be affected by reflux. The baby might cry during breastfeeding and makes a “clucking” sound when swallowing. The baby might have difficulty relaxing and you might hear how the baby is chewing and swallowing when lying down.
Why does reflux happen in babies?
Reflux among babies normally happens since the food pipe is not yet fully developed.
This causes a visible type of reflux that results in vomiting, often shortly after the baby has eaten. Silent reflux is also common, but it doesn’t result in the baby throwing up.
When the baby is around one year old, the food pipe is fully developed. At this point these symptoms usually disappear on their own.
My baby might have silent reflux – do I have to worry?
You do not have to worry if you think your baby might have silent reflux. These symptoms normally disappear when the baby is around 12 months.
While it’s not dangerous, we still advise you to get in touch with your physician or GP for medical advice.
Reflux in children older than 12 months
If your baby has symptoms of silent reflux even after its first year, you can use IQoro to activate the muscles in your baby’s swallowing process and treat the root cause behind the symptoms.
We recommend our children’s size IQoro for children from 1-10 years.
When should I seek medical help?
If the baby seems ill as a result of reflux or when the mucous membrane in the food pipe is damaged, it’s called Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. If you suspect this you should seek medical help.
These symptoms are also a sign your baby might need medical assistance:
- vomit is either green or yellow
- blood in the vomit
- vomiting intensely – more than usual
- blood in the stool
- tender or swollen abdomen
- high fever or feeling hot or shivery
- is sick continuously for an extended time, and is vomiting
- is visibly dehydrated and has had diarrhea for more than a week-
- don’t want to eat
What is acid reflux?
Acid reflux is when acid from your stomach travels up the food pipe, from the stomach, into chest level and above. In adults this typically happens because of weakened internal muscles. For babies with reflux the reason is usually a food pipe which has not yet developed fully.