Every baby and mother has trouble feeding at some point. When the problems are more severe, the condition is known medically as dysphagia. Children with feeding disorders find it hard to swallow food in their mouths, pass food through their pipes and prevent food from falling out. There are several feeding problem symptoms that prevent normal patterns of food consumption.
The pharyngeal phase of swallowing is where the main problem occurs. The throat begins to swallow and does not complete the task. Small children choke on their food often because of natural reflexes designed to prevent choking.
Many parents tend to feed their children too much food at once. That is why children consume liquids through nipples on bottles. They need the right amount of flow to avoid overconsumption. Parents should use nipple bottles and puree food thoroughly.
Oropharyngeal dysphagia is the medical term used to describe difficulty swallowing. Children find it hard to:
- Hold food in the mouth
- Control drooling
- Complete a full swallow
If the problem goes unresolved for a long period of time, it causes more severe feeding problem symptoms, such as choking or pneumonia.
Difficult Passage of Solids and Liquids to the Stomach
Esophageal dysphagia occurs in the esophagus. After the person swallows, the food feels stuck and unmovable. At some point, it either moves into the stomach or becomes regurgitated. Odynophagia is a common symptom linked to this condition.
Feeding problem symptoms of the esophagus occur when the top and bottom parts do not open and close properly. If the muscles are weakened in this structure, it is hard to squeeze food through and land in the stomach.
A disorder of the esophagus is one reason why swallowing is difficult for some people. Achalasia is a muscular disorder that reduces the efficiency of esophageal muscles. There are other disorders that create spasms in the esophagus and interfere with normal muscular functions. Some of those afflicted can barely control their swallowing and feel constant pain in the throat area.
Choking, or aspiration, occurs when foods or liquids move down the airway instead of the esophagus. The part that allows breathing gets obstructed by a foreign object. If the most severe feeding problem symptoms appear, death occurs when the child is not allowed to breathe at all.
Children gag often while eating. Parents should realize when too much gagging is taking place. If the child’s throat muscles are weak or paralyzed, there are still ways to prevent choking. Parents are encouraged to feed the children slowly and only give them small portions. Only a doctor is able to recognize if constant gagging is a problem caused by a chronic disorder.
Feeding problem symptoms affect the respiratory system more than the digestive or nervous systems. Respiratory infections and aspiration pneumonia are common conditions caused by dysphagia. These conditions occur when foreign objects enter the body, introduce bacteria into the area and harbor infections. These infections can spread to other organs and cause lung disease in some people.
All children have problems with feeding when they are very young. The symptoms vary from spitting up to severe choking. There are many different causes, such as nervous system disorders, gastrointestinal disorders and respiratory illnesses. Cerebral palsy is a condition that blocks the airways with mucus. Acid reflux is a gastrointestinal disorder that increases the pain of swallowing. Any child with swallowing difficulties is likely to have developed dysphagia. When a pediatrician notices feeding problem symptoms, he or she will carry out a physical examination and make a proper diagnosis. It is up to the afflicted people to choose the ideal treatments to improve feeding.
- “Feeding and Swallowing Disorders (Dysphagia) in Children.” American speech language hearing association. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 July 2015. http://www.asha.org/public/speech/swallowing/Feeding-and-Swallowing-Disorders-in-Children/
- Marks, Jay. “Dysphagia symptoms: Swallowing.” Medicine net. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 July 2015. http://www.medicinenet.com/swallowing/page3.htm