There are several elements that may point out that children and even adults have feeding problems. Some of the major signs associated with feeding problems that mostly occur in children include having problems gathering food, chewing and even swallowing. A practical example of a feeding problem is when a child is incapable of picking food and putting it in the mouth or even closing the lips to chew food thus causing the food to fall out of the mouth.
There are several phases when it comes to feeding problems that include:
- Oral phase: Inability to suck, chew and move food towards the oesophagus
- Pharyngeal phase: The pharyngeal phase causes an even greater problem where a person is incapable of squeezing the food through the throat while at the same time closing the airway in order to prevent food from entering the airway that can at times lead to choking.
- Oesophageal phase: Inability to relax and tighten the oesophageal wall muscles so as to push food down to the stomach.
Symptoms of a Feeding Problem
There are several signs that might indicate that a child or even a grown-up has a feeding problem. However, feeding problems are not common among grown-ups. The symptoms of a feeding problems manifest themselves different children.
The following are some of the most common symptoms of a feeding problem among children:
- Periodical vomiting and excessive spitting
- Hoarse voice when speaking
- Reduced body weight
- Occasional respiratory problems such as pneumonia
- Difficulty in coordinating the breathing process including while having meals
- Excessive coughing while taking meals
- A reduced rate of alertness when having meals
- A stiff body during feeding
- Increased feeding time which can go up to an hour for a simple meal
- Whereby a child refuses to take any meal
- An increased level of irritability when taking meals
- Lack of feeding coordination when eating and breastfeeding
- Food coming out of the mouth and nose when taking a meal
Diagnosis of a Feeding Problem
If a child exhibits any of the symptoms listed, he or she could be having a feeding problem. The immediate appropriate measures should be that the child be taken to a paediatrician who is then supposed to make the correct diagnosis for a feeding problems. However, the correct diagnosis of a feeding problem requires a collaborative approach among;
- Physical therapists
- Occupational therapists
- Physicians or nurses
- Development specialists
Feeding Problem Treatment
There are various treatment methods that can be used to address the problem of a feeding disorder or problem. However, such treatment methods are dependent on the main cause of the feeding problem including establishing why a child might be having a problem feeding and swallowing food.
The main recommended treatment methods for a feeding problem are:
- The medical intervention method that involves basic medication for feeding problems.
- Changing the temperature and texture of food
- Changing the body posture or positioning of children e.g. changing the way they seat
- Behavioural management intervention strategy
- An overhaul of the basic nutrition of a child
- Feeding therapy
- Reference to other medical professionals such as psychologists on the same
What Does Direct Feeding Therapy do
Any feeding therapy intervention is meant to assist in:
- Improve tongue movement
- Increase the strength of the muscles in the mouth
- Increase muscle coordination among infants
- Alter the food texture so that a child is able to swallow the food safely
- Improve chewing
Treatment by Family Members
One of the reason why a feeding problem can go unnoticed is because most parents do not know what to look for regarding the problem. This means that all the symptoms of a feeding problem cannot be identified during the early stages and most parents only come to know of the existence of the problem when it is too late. Family members are therefore encouraged to:
- Search for information regarding feeding problems to better understand how to deal with a child suffering from the same
- Seek alternative treatment plans including the ones recommended