When to seek medical advice

Parents should always seek medical advice if they are worried in any way about their infant, or themselves. See also our useful checklist at the bottom of the page. In relation to gastro-oesophageal reflux, parents should especially seek medical advice if:

Their infant or child

  • is very irritable, cries excessively or is inconsolable
  • appears to be in pain
  • does not sleep well and is easily disturbed
  • has weight loss or poor weight gain
  • develops hoarseness
  • appears to be refluxing frequently

Their child complains of (NASPGHAN, 2004)

  • food/fluid coming into the back of their throat or mouth
  • heartburn or pain in the stomach or chest area
  • difficult or painful swallowing
  • food getting stuck

Their infant or child’s vomiting

  • is of large volume
  • is frequent
  • is increasing in amount
  • is forceful
  • contains coffee ground-like material or is black, red or brown
  • is green or yellow

With feeding, their infant or child

  • refuses to eat/feed
  • pulls off the bottle or breast; or frequently interrupts the feed
  • is difficult to reattach to the breast or bottle
  • arches their back, draws their legs up or screams
  • is fussy or sensitive to different textures
  • chokes or gags
  • complains of pain (NDDIC, 2006)

Their infant or child has chest issues

  • any increased breathing effort, particularly after vomiting (NDDIC, 2006) or during or after eating
  • repeated coughing
  • wheezing
  • repeated chest infections or pneumonia
  • apnoeas (breathing stops temporarily)
  • cyanosis (turns blue) or colour changes (pale or blue) around their mouth or face

Either partner feels

  • distressed
  • overtired and exhausted
  • confused about how to manage their child
  • lacking support
  • socially isolated because of their child’s behaviour
  • depressed or feeling down/negative
  • not eating
  • not sleeping
  • not coping
  • excessively weepy
  • worried that they might harm their child or themselves

RISA Checklist for medical consultations
This checklist does not offer a medical diagnosis, but rather assists parents to record their concerns and provide a framework for a productive discussion with their medical professionals. It is generally for parents with a child who is 2 yrs or under.

For more information on this topic, see the presentation at our 2013 conference by Professor Geoff Cleghorn, Paediatric Gastroenterologist on Diagnosis and medical management of infant GORD – introductory clip. Buy full version here.

Reflux Reality: A Guide for Families© Written by RISA Inc, revised by Glenda Blanch, RISA Inc member and author of “Reflux Reality: A Guide for Families” 2010

Additional information on gastro-oesophageal reflux is provided in our book “Reflux Reality: A Guide for Families”.

Works Cited

NASPGHAN. (2004, May 11). Parent’s Take Home Guide to GERD. Retrieved September 21, 2007, from North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition: http://www.naspghan.org/user-assets/Documents/pdf/diseaseInfo/GERD-E.pdf

NDDIC. (2006, August). Gastroesophageal Reflux in Children and Adolescents. Retrieved March 28, 2008, from National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/gerinchildren/index.htm#4

NDDIC. (2006, August). Gastroesophageal Reflux in Infants. Retrieved March 28, 2008, from National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/gerdinfant/index.htm