Silent Reflux in Babies: Causes, Symptoms & Remedies


Reflux or spitting up is a very common phenomenon in newborn babies. However, most of the new parents might not be aware of silent reflux in their babies. In this article, we will discuss about silent reflux in babies, its causes, symptoms and various treatment options available. Read on to find out everything you need to know about silent reflux in babies.

silent reflux in babies

In This Article:

All you Need to Know about Silent Reflux in Babies

When the contents of your baby’s stomach rise above and out of the stomach, entering the pharynx, throat or the voice box, it is called silent reflux in infants. There is a chance for the stomach contents to enter the baby’s mouth, nose, ears, sinus or even the lungs, which may lead to fatal complications.

Silent reflux is different from normal reflux because in this case, the stomach’s contents may stay in the food pipe for a longer duration, which may harm the digestive tract or the oesophagus lining of the infant. Also, silent reflux is difficult to diagnose as there are not prominent or evident symptoms of this condition and in most cases, it may remain undiagnosed.


Causes of Silent Reflux in Babies

The most common reason for silent reflux in babies is their underdeveloped digestive system. Also, babies spend most of their time lying down, which makes it easier for the stomach acid and digestive enzymes to travel back up and towards the oesophagus. However, as your baby grows and his digestive system gets in place and becomes mature, the problem may get cured.

Symptoms of Silent Reflux in Babies

Following are some of the symptoms that you may help you in establishing silent reflux in your baby:

  • Your baby may have a chronic cough that may not go away.
  • Your baby may have a bad breath throughout the day.
  • Your baby may have noisy breathing.
  • Your baby may cry incessantly because of pain. The pain may be due to the damage that may have occurred to the oesophagus and the digestive tract lining.
  • Your baby may have frequent hiccups.
  • Your baby’s voice may become hoarse. This may happen due to incessant crying bouts.
  • Your baby may not feed properly because of the pain.
  • You may hear your baby making a regular gulping sound.
  • Your baby may not gain weight.
  • Sometimes, your baby may feed more often to soothe the pain, which may lead to excessive weight gain or obesity in infants.
  • You may experience trouble feeding your baby.

Diagnosis of Silent Reflux in Babies

As discussed above that it may get tricky to diagnose silent reflux in babies because there are no evident symptoms and babies cannot tell what they may be suffering from. However, if you establish any of the above-mentioned symptoms, that may be an indication that your baby may be suffering from silent reflux. You should seek immediate medical help for the same. Your doctor may do a thorough physical examination of your baby; this may help your doctor decide the correct course of treatment. Your doctor may also suggest some of the following methods for diagnosing silent reflux in your baby:

  • Ph monitoring
  • Biopsy
  • Endoscopy
  • Barium swallow
  • Oesophageal manometry


Complications of Silent Reflux in Babies

Some complications that may arise due to recurrent bouts of silent reflux in babies include:

  • It may narrow your baby’s vocal cords.
  • It may cause hoarseness.
  • It may lead to long-term airways conditions or complications.
  • It may even lead to ear infections. This may occur due to the dysfunctional eustachian tube.

Remedies for Silent Reflux in Babies

You may try some of the following infant silent reflux remedies:

  • You may try to feed your baby at regular intervals rather than feeding him more at one time.
  • You may hold your baby in an upright position for sometime after you feed him.
  • You may burp your baby often during the feeding sessions.
  • You may elevate your baby’s head by elevating the mattress. However, refrain from using a pillow in your baby’s crib as it may lead to choking hazards.
  • You may check if your baby’s feeding bottle is not allowing too much milk release as it may lead to overfeeding.

Treatment of Silent Reflux in Babies

In case your baby may be suffering from a severe case of silent reflux, your doctor may offer the following treatment options:

Infant antacid

An antacid is an effective medication to treat silent reflux in babies. Your doctor may suggest mixing it with some breast milk, formula milk or water and give it to your baby. Your doctor may guide you the correct dosage as per your baby’s age and condition.


Avoiding cow’s milk

Sometimes it may become difficult to establish whether your baby may be suffering from cow’s milk allergy or silent reflux. Your paediatrician may advise you to avoid all milk products in case of cow’s milk allergy. In case your baby may be allergic to formula milk, you may be advised to give hypoallergenic formula milk to your baby.

There is no cause of concern if your baby suffers from silent reflux. It is very common in infants, and with proper care or medical intervention, it may easily get cured.