One of the most awful feelings in the world as a parent is knowing that your baby is in pain, but not knowing how to help them. You feel just as helpless as they do, no matter the cause of their discomfort. For many babies, silent reflux is the unfortunate reason behind their seemingly invisible pain. Although it's tricky to diagnose, there are several ways your baby may be trying to tell you they have silent reflux that you shouldn't ignore.
According to Today's Parent, though the pain is similar to regular reflux, silent reflux is oftentimes harder to diagnose because most babies won't spit up often — the telltale sign of normal reflux. Furthermore, despite its misleading name, silent reflux isn't silent. Your baby will probably be fussy and overly irritable, giving you one of your first clues that something is wrong.
Babies are especially prone to developing reflux for several reasons. Their digestive systems aren't as fully developed as adults', meaning that their stomach can't hold as much food, and their esophagus, sphincter, and stomach aren't as toned yet. That, combined with the amount of time they spend on their back, is a prime equation for reflux, according to the same Today's Parent article.
As horrible as it is to watch your baby in pain, once you identify the cause, you and your pediatrician can begin to take steps to relieve your babe of some of the discomfort.
1They're Excessively Irritable
While this certainly can't be the only symptom present to diagnose silent reflux (fussiness could have many different causes), it will definitely be part of the equation, according to Reflux.org. Oftentimes, your baby won't enjoy lying on their back, or they will have the appearance of being in pain more often than not.
2They Show Feeding Issues
Though feeding issues may present themselves in various ways, since this is a digestive related issue, it will most likely be an issue at some point in babies with silent reflux. It may be a need to comfort feed constantly, an aversion to or fear of eating at all, or showing signs of pain during eating, according to Just Mommies.
3Their Breath Smells Sour
According to Dr. Sears on Parenting, your baby may have sour smelling breath, due to the fact that the milk will sit in the esophagus longer than it normally would, causing a slight odor.
4They Have Difficulty Swallowing
Healthline says that your baby may have difficulty swallowing during feedings due to pain or discomfort.
5They Gag Themselves
Different than spitting up, some babies will forcibly gag themselves in an effort to relieve the discomfort, NCT says.
6They Have Trouble Breathing
An article in Today's Parent explains that babies with silent reflux will most likely have a persistent cough as well as labored breathing, because their throat isn't fully clear.
7Their Voice Is Hoarse
Similarly, their cries and coos will sound more scratchy and hoarse, according to Belly Belly.