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Silent reflux - symptoms and treatment?

(27 Posts)
bean612 Sat 07-Feb-09 19:25:49

I've been having problems with DD crying all the time and a kind Mumsnetter suggested it might be silent reflux. I had no idea what this was before now and assumed reflux involved vomiting so dismissed it as a possible cause (DD never vomits/possets - likes her food too much!), but now I've done a bit of research and think it could be the culprit. Can anyone whose DC had it share their experiences? It would be wonderful if we could finally pinpoint DD's trouble and do something to help her...

Mummywannabe Sat 07-Feb-09 19:35:33

Not sure i am able to help much but i am convinced my ds had mild silent reflux. Started him on cow and gate comfort milk - obviously no help if your BF.(be warned it makes nappies awful, runny, green etc) and used Dr brown bottles. Have no problems now, and i tried to swap him back to normal formula last week and symptoms reappeared.

Have a chat with your HV mine suggested i do the above first and if not better to see G.P

Mummywannabe Sat 07-Feb-09 19:37:04

How old is your DD? Your comment about liking food too much rings true with my DS and i'm sure his greed and frantic feeding added to his pain

bean612 Sat 07-Feb-09 19:40:44

I'm both BF and FF (a combination during the day and FF at night), so a change of formula could help I guess. She certainly seems to exhibit some of the signs more when she's FF (arching her back and neck, turning her head away etc). And she doesn't sleep very well at all during the second half of the night (although she's asleep, she grunts and groans and grizzles in her sleep), which is when she has been eating only formula for a few hours.

bean612 Sat 07-Feb-09 19:41:54

She's 9 weeks today. And she can be a frantic feeder, gulping down milk and then spluttering it back up again. Not always, but reasonably often.

Ebb Sat 07-Feb-09 19:43:45

I was nanny to a baby who developed silent reflux at about 16 wks. She suddenly started screaming hysterically at every feed and eventually got to the stage where she'd cry at the sight of her bottle. I was managing to get about 14oz of milk a day into her. She was fine in between and sleeping through the night.

The local GP did a health check and ummed and aahhed and said to keep an eye on her. To be honest it was horrendous and both of us ended up in tears at feeds. Mum came back on the Sunday ( they'd been on holiday for a week ) and baby fed fine that night. Mum wondered what all the fuss was about. The next day she was on the train to London to see her private doctor! The doctor diagnosed silent reflux and prescribed ranitidine and pepti junior formula. The improvement was almost immediate but I don't think it was a really severe case. Pepti junior is really expensive (£36 a tin ) so we managed to get it on prescription.

I found a great website on silent reflux which had a whole host of symptoms and things to help. Will try and find it for you.

I think doctors can be reluctant to diagnose silent reflux so you might have to push for a referal.

Mummywannabe Sat 07-Feb-09 19:43:46

symtoms sounds like my DS and the change happened over 3 days. Maybe your HV or G.P might be able to give something to help if your BF and she is still uncomfortable as the change in FF will only help a little.

Really feel for you, it was horrid with Ds and i ended up dreading every feed

bean612 Sat 07-Feb-09 19:48:51

Thanks Ebb - that would be great. I feel like I've been in and out of the GPs like a revolving door since DD was born so I'm slightly dreading the idea of going back there (I was in only yesterday!) I'm absolutely not a hypochondriac but had lots of problems with breastfeeding, DD getting a (non-serious) infection at 11 days and having to be admitted to hospital, and related issues which has meant constant trips to the doctor.

TBH she doesn't exhibit symptoms with every feed by any means, but does quite often at night and in the early mornings in particular.

Ebb Sat 07-Feb-09 19:53:59


They have a bit that lists infant symptoms of silent reflux. Hope that helps.

Mummywannabe Sat 07-Feb-09 19:54:27

I'm sure you have but have you tried propping up her cot as this helps with reflux and we tried rubbing his back on left side to wind as patting can push acid up, both had an effect.

Sounds like FF could be adding to problem so might be worth a try to change.

Don't worry about G.P and being there all the time. My Ds has had thrush at 2 weeks, tummy bug at 12 weeks, bronchiolitis at 20 weeks, not to mention the times we went due to the on going feeding trouble. I have now decided that i will just have to accept that i'm there alot!

JimmyMcNulty Sat 07-Feb-09 19:59:49

hello again smile

Here are some links that helped me research it: reflux symptoms

In the end we got ds referred to this chap who finally sorted him out.

Our experience was the awful, endless crying (and you feel an idiot when you go to the doctor, they check him over, pronounce him well and smile patronisingly when all you can say is 'But he cries SO MUCH'!).

Even a paediatrician at our local hospital sent us away after examining ds from every angle, saying ds was 'just grumpy' when we turned up there in despair one evening when he'd basically screamed since the morning. It was other people suggesting silent reflux on MN that got us to look into it for ourselves and basically insist that the GP gave us a private referral to Dr Thomson. Ds was 12 weeks by the time we saw him.

We were told it can be very hard to diagnose especially before 12 weeks, because lots of babies cry plenty, but after 12 weeks excessive crying is actually quite likely to be reflux of some kind.

It is all an unpleasant memory now (ds is 2.5) but his symptoms were:

-the crying/screaming
-frequent waking
-unhappy about lying horizontally
-acidic-smelling breath
-frequent hiccups
-sort of gulping/coughing a lot
-feeding most of the time. He put on a phenomenal amount of weight, did a lot of comfort feeding, but would suddenly break off and cry before going back on, breaking off etc...

We had infant gavsicon from the GP at first (after nagging) which helped initially then seemed not to work anymore. Then ranitidine (zantac) from Dr Thomson, which did work. Plus advice about inclining his cot, etc.

Hope this helps.

JimmyMcNulty Sat 07-Feb-09 20:00:40

Oh, and ds was fine for the first few weeks of his life; I think it started at about 5 weeks old.

weepootleflump Sat 07-Feb-09 20:04:17

My dd is 7 weeks and was just crying all the time but sounded in pain. Her tummy was constantly gurgling and fizzing and she got hiccups loads.

I mentioned it to the dr who immediately prescribed ranitidene (as I'm breastfeeding) and it made a difference straight away. It's only been a week since she started on it and she's to take it for 8 weeks.

FiveGoMadInDorset Sat 07-Feb-09 20:07:10

Our GP's have ben great and have a very positive attitude, HV's were a different story, DS's is managed by Gavsicon and Infasoy formula.

bean612 Sat 07-Feb-09 20:27:24

Will try inclining her cot tonight and see if that helps, and buy Gaviscon first thing tomorrow. And call HV on Monday (she has been brilliant so far on other issues, so hopefully will help with this one). Is there anything else I can do in the meantime, do you know? Thanks so much for all the help/advice so far.

FiveGoMadInDorset Sat 07-Feb-09 20:28:42

You need Infant Gaviscon and held behind the counter in chemists.

bean612 Sat 07-Feb-09 20:36:49

Have just read on here that Infant Gaviscon should only be used on infants under 1 year on the advice of a doctor. DD is only 9 weeks.

FiveGoMadInDorset Sat 07-Feb-09 20:39:21

YOu should ask your DR to prescribe it, we are on a permanent prescription.

sobeda Sat 07-Feb-09 21:29:38

Two of my DC had it - with the first we thought she was having epiletic fits when in reality she was choking. By the second we knew what was going on. The third was completely different (his problem was sleeping not eating)! What helped was thickened formula ( I was breastfeeding, so 2 oz thickened formula before a breast feed ) and putting the cot on an incline. (whatever you use to create the incline is best under the wheels or legs of the cot, NOT the pillow!) For the first I also thickened some breast milk in a bottle with something I can no longer remember and gave that just before a breast feed. You have to use quite big teats on the bottles for this to work. I breast fed both on this regime for 12 months each. I tried Gaviscon but it didn't work for us.
Doctors will tell you it doesn't work, but it worked for me and for my sister whose children had the same thing. Good luck!

bean612 Sat 07-Feb-09 21:39:08

Thanks sobeda - she gets a combination of BM and formula (not mixed together, but both during the day and formula at night) so I could try thickening the latter. When you say doctors tell you it doesn't work, but it does - do you mean thickening the milk? Cos you said Gaviscon didn't work. Am a bit confused!

Adlp Sat 07-Feb-09 23:29:13

Hi, I have been going through the messages in utter despair ,as my DD is 6 weeks old and has a lot of symptoms that Jimmy McNulty has described. Can you also please confirm if you had the crazy crying spells everyday? As with my daughter she is fine....i.e sleeps well etc one day and a day like today hasn't slept at all..... all day and finally slept only when my husband took her on a 2hr drive.

We tried her on formula (only the last feed) , when she was about three weeks old (just to give me a break from breast feeding and because my husband wanted to give the dream feed etc) and we had three nights of non-stop crying between 10pm-4am, so we stopped the formula. Tried a different brand week four, and a couple of days later the 10pm-4am crying started again, so we stopped the formula altogether and now i only breastfeed. It is a lot of pressure on me as she comfort feeds a lot and breaks-off crying before going back on again for hours on end, especially between 6-11pm and is very difficult to settle. Sometimes taking two-three hours to settle!

Took her to the GP who said that she is just a slightly cranky baby and is putting on weight so its all fine! Surely though she can't be hungry for 4/5 hours continuously.....and we really dread the witching hour. Having had an uncharacteristically good night's sleep, she didn't sleep all today and has been crying non-stop, which is a first for us and has thrown us completely.

I'd be grateful for any advice or personal experiences which are similar. Is reflux a daily occurrence? Is it something she will grow out of? Should we take her to a paedeatrician?

Looking forward to your experiences..........

bean612 Sun 08-Feb-09 10:53:18

Oh, Adip, I feel for you! This sounds like my DD, who, although she is often cranky now, was definitely worse around the 5-7 week mark.

First of all - the crazy crying spells became most noticeable at around week 4-5, and usually in the evenings, so we thought it must be colic, although she did cry a fair amount during the day, too (though more grizzling than actual screaming). She's never done the classic colic thing of pulling her knees up to her tummy, though, but has always arched her back, which I didn't know was a symptom of reflux until now. The awful crying isn't/wasn't every day, but often enough to make things very difficult. I think because we learned tricks to stop her crying - eg. driving around in the car, the sling (which doesn't work when she's really hysterical) and comfort breastfeeding (ie. when she's not actually hungry) - she's cried less, but only because of these things (and they often take a while to work - we can drive around for half an hour or longer before she starts to calm down).

On the feeding front - I have mix-fed her since week 2 as we had loads of problems with breastfeeding and she too would feed for hours on end and especially at night I found this really hard to cope with as I just wasn't getting any sleep. So now she gets breastfed (luckily it's got easier) during the day, with formula top-ups, and bottle-fed at night. Luckily she's never screamed at night (or only briefly), but is very grizzly in her sleep from the early morning onwards.

I too wonder if reflux is meant to happen every day, or more constantly than my DD experiences it, as sometimes she is fine. But so many of the symptoms ring true with her that I can't help feeling that she must have it, though perhaps not as chronically as other babies.

I don't know if any of that helps, but I do know what you're going through and I sympathise. If it's of any comfort, crying is meant to peak at 6 weeks and get gradually better thereafter...

monthlymayhem Sun 08-Feb-09 14:26:53

Adip, no advice but just to give some hope! My DS (now 10 mths) was a complete nightmare for the first few months. I also breastfed him and was in a lot of pain for the first three months before it became easier. He cried and screamed and screamed and cried for most of the day (luckily was fairly ok at night) and we were constantly told by our GP that 'some babies just cry'. I tried everything, from colic 'remedies' to cranial osteopaths and nothing seemed to help. Using white noise, usually the hairdryer or hoover, would help to calm him down for 20 mins or so, but otherwise it just seemed constant. In hindsight I'm fairly sure it was reflux as I've since realised all of the symptoms related to my ds at that age.

Anyway the positive thing that I wanted to say is that my ds is now the happiest, playful little baby I could ever have hoped for and yet for the first few months I couldn't ever imagine that would be the case. So, hang in there, it really will get better.

JimmyMcNulty Sun 08-Feb-09 15:21:19

Hi again, no my ds wasn't like it every day - there would be the odd day that would be 'good' and we'd think maybe he was getting better. After he started on the ranitidine there was a huge improvement literally overnight, then a basically upward curve with a few odd bad days after that. I tried him off the meds at about 5 and a half months and he stayed off after that.

And my experience was similar to monthlymayhem's in that ds grew out of it. So much so that when he started going to a childminder at 8 months, after his first few sessions she commented 'He's just not a crier, is he?' shock

Oh, re feeding, ds was breastfed but I'd given him some bottles for the sake of my sanity - the guy who prescribed the ranitidine encouraged me to keep him off the formula if possible (something about how long it stays in the stomach, I think).

JimmyMcNulty Sun 08-Feb-09 15:29:36

Adlp if I were you I would insist on a referral. Maybe print out one of the web pages that describes your dd's symptoms and take it with you to your gp. I know it's only the internet and all that, but gps aren't specialists in everything and to some extent can't be expected to know some of this.

It sounds like some gps are more savvy about this than others. Ours was sceptical but I am afraid I bullied her into it (am normally a pushover, but I was desperate!).

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