What is a swallowing disorder?
Swallowing disorders, also called dysphagia (dis-FAY-juh), can occur at different stages in the swallowing process.
What are the symptoms of a swallowing disorder?
For a variety of reasons babies and children have problems with feeding and eating at mealtimes. Children with feeding and swallowing problems can present with a wide variety of symptoms. Not all signs and symptoms are present in every child. The following are signs and symptoms of feeding and swallowing problems in very young children:
- problems with sucking and swallowing
- refusing the bottle/breast
- difficulty breastfeeding
- arching or stiffening of the body during feeding
- irritability or lack of alertness during feeding
- refusing food or liquid
- failure to accept different textures of food (e.g., only pureed foods or crunchy cereals)
- long feeding times (e.g., more than 30 minutes)
- difficulty chewing
- food refusal or only accepts limited types of foods
- coughing or gagging during meals
- excessive drooling or food/liquid coming out of the mouth or nose
- difficulty coordinating breathing with eating and drinking
- increased stuffiness during meals
- gurgly, hoarse, or breathy voice quality
- frequent spitting up or vomiting
What are some of the risks for a child with a swallowing disorder?
- dehydration or poor nutrition
- aspiration (food or liquid entering the airway) or penetration
- pneumonia or repeated upper respiratory infections that can lead to chronic lung disease
- embarrassment or isolation in social situations involving eating
- weight loss, less than normal weight gain or growth