Airway Problems

In children, airway problems are commonly caused from reflux of undigested food and secretions from the stomach. This condition is often difficult to diagnose, as typical symptoms are not always clear in children. This condition is called laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR) or gastroesophageal reflux (GER). Find out about the symptoms and solutions for airway problems.

Causes and Concerns

LPR and GER in children are similar to the adult forms of the condition. These airway problems occur when the lower esophageal sphincter relaxes. This can cause acid and digested food from the stomach to come back up into the mouth. Children are more prone to LPR and GER, because the meal volume tends to be larger than the gastric volume.

For young babies and infants, these airway problems occur from an undeveloped ring of muscle at the bottom of the esophagus. This muscle is a sphincter, and it keeps the fluid from coming back up into the throat, nasal cavity, and mouth. When it is not fully developed, it does not adequately function.

If LPR and GER are left untreated, they can cause serious complications. Reflux esophagitis, acquired from untreated airway problems, is an adverse effect of persistent GER or LPR. Pneumonia and respiratory problems develop and cause life threatening problems for the child. It is important to seek treatment for your child as soon as you suspect these problems.

Symptoms and Signs

For young babies, LPR and GER may not be evident, as symptoms and signs are not always so obvious. Consider bringing your child in to see one of our caring pediatric airway specialists if you notice any of the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Hoarseness
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Recurrent regurgitation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Sleeping problems
  • Respiratory problems

Solutions and Options

Believe it or not, LPR and GER are often left undiagnosed in children. Early diagnosis and treatment is the only way to prevent complications. The main goal of therapy is to provide relief for the child, to prevent complications, and to cure existing disease. In some cases, children may need to be put on medications to manage the airway problem symptoms.

If you suspect your child has LPR or GER, be sure to keep him or her in an upright position after each feeding for at least 30 minutes. Proper burping and mouth care are also important. Also, avoid giving young children spicy or fried foods, as these contribute to the problem.


Many children with LPR or GER grow out of it, as the esophageal sphincter properly develops. When a child does not outgrow this airway problem, it can cause a significant decline in overall well-being and quality of life. Treatment is the best remedy for child with airway problems.

Dr. Tamez of Tejas Ear, Nose and Throat has extensive experience in all aspects of pediatric ear, nose and throat ailments . He loves working with the entire family and is able make children and parents feel at ease. make and appointment today and let Dr. Tamez help improve your familys’ health and quality of life.

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