Dysphagia

Also known as: difficulty swallowing, trouble swallowing

What is dysphagia?

Dysphagia means difficulty with feeding and/or swallowing from problems with using the mouth/lips, tongue or throat. It affects all ages and can range in severity from a minor concern to a serious medical condition.

What causes dysphagia?

Swallowing involves four stages-( 1) Mouth preparation, where food is chewed and moistened with saliva;(2) a stage where a child pushes the food/liquid towards the throat;(3) the pharyngeal stage where the food enters throat, the little flap that protects the food from going down the windpipe closes, and food/ liquid quickly passes down into the food pipe ( the esophagus ) ; (4) food/liquid moves from the esophagus to the stomach. Swallowing problems can occur from problems in any of the stages. Common ones include cleft lip or palate, large tongue, diseases that affect the nerves, and/ or muscles involved in the swallowing mechanisms, and many others.

What are the symptoms of dysphagia?

Symptoms can mimic many conditions-eating slowly, difficulty sucking and swallowing at the same time, gagging during eating, drooling, spitting up or vomiting, hoarseness, coughing when eating, recurrent pneumonia, weight loss and many others.

What are dysphagia care options?

Depending on the cause, treatment options for dysphagia can range from food modification, medications, speech or occupational therapists to surgery. Your Specialist pediatrician at Nicklaus Children's Hospital will discuss with you the likely diagnosis, what investigations might be helpful and the best treatment program for your child.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf

This page was last updated on: 4/17/2017 4:19:01 PM


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