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Is it common for a child who has had reflux to vomit easily for the rest of their life?

Is it common for a child who has had reflux to vomit easily for the rest of their life. My daughter is turning 4 this month and vomits easily. In the car, when eating thicker foods like mashed potatoes, sometimes when she`s coughing from a cold. Her tonsils are also enlarged.

Answer: Hi, Thank you for your question. It is an interesting one and unfortunately scenarios like you describe are not as uncommon as you may think. In many cases, a baby may seem to grow out of reflux between 3 to 18 months, but some do continue to suffer from reflux beyond that age – although their signs and symptoms may change as they get older. Sometimes older children can be undiagnosed or still suffer some symptoms. Have you noticed any difficulty with her behaviour? Sometimes older refluxers can have behavioural issues e.g. be easily upset, moody, ‘lose the plot’ over small things. By this age, they may be used to the signs and therefore may not always tell you when they feel discomfort, or even know how to express it fully. They may not even realise they have discomfort. It truly is necessary to discuss your concerns with your doctor or medical specialist to focus on her current situation, especially as the tonsils are enlarged (reflux and enlarged tonsils can sometimes be connected) and especially if it is causing problems such as swallowing, sleep disruptions or pain during coughing or colds. Once an underlying reason for these reactions are diagnosed or found, then you may find that life becomes a little more manageable for you both. Your treatment of her reflux when she was younger may have worked in the past, however as every child grows and changes, you may need different strategies or retry management ideas that did not seem to work when she was an infant (of course that is if your doctor does think reflux may be an ongoing factor). Helpful tips are included at RISA’s webpage on this topic http://www.reflux.org.au/olderchildren.php. As there seems to be a variety of times that your child vomits, a behaviour and food diary may also be a good place for you to start. This way, you can monitor the types of foods, prior to road trips, during the day and their reactions. Or, if stress is a factor, and other patterns become clearer, a doctor may start to find links and solutions to your little girls vomiting. For some children, reducing the stress of a car trip may be the way to build up confidence (and reduce stress/vomiting), even sucking on ginger flavoured treats, can reduce car sickness. I know too, that reflux can sometimes be related to car sickness and know of one child whose car sickness was managed when he was put on reflux medication. Taking a look at what else is mixed in with the potatoes – is it dairy butter or milk your child is reacting too? You may consider that an underlying cause could be food allergies or intolerance`s, therefore if managed, with nutritional alternatives with the help of a dietitian could help you lead a life free of vomiting or nausea. As mentioned, as each child is different, and there could be other factors going on that only a medical doctor treating and understanding your child, we recommend discussing your concerns with your doctor. Some of the mother’s who volunteer at RISA are mothers of older children with reflux, so you can also contact us back once you have a medical diagnosis for support or more information. Best regards, Brenda
Answered: 15 Mar 2009