Abnormal swallowing or a feeding disorder is a common but serious occurrence in small children and infants, and while it may be difficult to detect at first, it’s important to address the issue of abnormal swallowing as soon as possible.
Otherwise known as dysphagia, swallowing disorders can happen in a number of stages throughout the swallowing process. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association , there are three stages in which a swallowing disorder may occur:
The Oral Phase: This is the sucking or chewing phase that involves moving food or liquid into the throat.
The Pharyngeal Phase: This phase involves squeezing food down the throat while simultaneously closing off the airway in order to prevent food or liquid from entering the lungs.
The Esophageal Phase: The final stage of processing food, the esophageal phase, involves squeezing the food through the esophagus into the stomach while the openings at the top of the feeding tube relax.
Some common symptoms of swallowing problems include but are not limited to recurring cases of respiratory infections, coughing or gagging while eating, frequent vomiting during meals, arching or spastic behavior during feeding, or difficulty chewing/swallowing.
If you think your child may be suffering from abnormal swallowing, it’s recommended to contact your dentist or pediatrician, as treatments will most likely need to take place as soon as possible. Treatments include feeding therapy, medication, adjustments of food temperature, adjustments of sitting while eating, or possibly psychological treatment.
After the dysphagia has been diagnosed and treated, it’s important to continue to keep a close watch on your child, as the problem may reoccur or possibly worsen. Stay in close contact with your dentist or pediatrician and keep them updated with any news or updates with your child’s eating habits. Abnormal swallowing can be a scary and dangerous thing to happen to your child, so it’s important to stay alert.