Childhood Dysphagia

What is Dysphagia?

Dysphagia is a medical term for trouble swallowing. Your child may have problems swallowing certain foods or liquids, or can’t swallow at all. Other signs of dysphagia are coughing or choking when eating and drinking. When food or liquids can’t pass easily from your child’s mouth into the throat, down the esophagus, and into the stomach when swallowing they can bring food back up, sometimes through the nose.

What causes dysphagia in a child?

If your child’s swallowing issues start suddenly and your child is normally healthy, your child may have something stuck in the esophagus. If your child has trouble swallowing and a fever, it may be because of an infection. Chronic swallowing problems are often caused by another health problem. Chronic reflux of stomach acids into the esophagus can irritate your child’s throat and can lead to dysphagia. Scar tissue can develop in your esophagus. The scar tissue can narrow your esophagus. The child can feel pain when swallowing.

What are the symptoms of dysphagia in children?

Symptoms can include:

  • Choking and Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing ,excessive crying
  • Do not tolerate foods of different textures
  • lack of weight gain
  • Drooling
  • Feeling like there is food stuck in throat
  • Voice sounds different
  • Difficulty or spasm in the body during breastfeeding
  • Eating Slowly
  • Having food or liquid come out of the nose

The symptoms of this condition may look like symptoms of other health problems. Make sure your child sees a healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

How is dysphagia diagnosed in children?

Early identification and treatment of feeding and swallowing problems will help your child’s health and quality of life while also preventing or reducing complications. Interventions for swallowing problems must target the source of the problem in order to be successful. Consequently, any intervention must be directed by a comprehensive evaluation.

Common assessment techniques include formal clinical evaluation tools and quality of life measures, as well as a range of instrumental evaluation tools, such as VFSS, FEES, cervical auscultation, accelerometry, ultrasound, manometry, endoscopy, Laryngoscopy, and impedance testing.

How is dysphagia treated in children?

Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, how severe the condition is and the cause your child’s dysphagia.

If your child’s swallowing issues start suddenly, your child may have something stuck in their esophagus. If your child has trouble swallowing and a fever, it may be from an infection. These can both be emergencies. They need to be treated right away.

Your child may be able to swallow thick fluids and soft foods better than thin liquids. Your child’s healthcare provider may suggest giving pureed foods. Some babies who had trouble swallowing formula or breastmilk do better when they’re old enough to eat pureed or baby food.

According to Children’s Health, many times you can work with a speech pathologist or pediatric feeding therapist to treat your child’s condition. Always be prepared to ask your child’s healthcare provider questions, and know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results mean.