While dysphagia is more common among adults, it can occur at any age. Paediatric Dysphagia is a serious issue that could result in malnutrition, dehydration, aspiration pneumonia, food aversion and on-going need for enteral or parenteral nutrition.
Causes of Paediatric Dysphagia
Some of the possible causes of dysphagia among children are:
- developmental disability attributed to mental or physical impairments, especially those that warrant extended medical, therapeutic, and residential supports
- neurological disorders such as cerebral palsy, meningitis, encephalopathy, pervasive developmental disorders, traumatic brain injury, muscle weakness in face and neck
- neuromuscular disorders due to prematurity or low birth weight
- complex medical conditions such as pulmonary and heart disease, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- structural abnormalities such as cleft lip and palate, laryngomalacia, tracheoesophageal fistula, esophageal atresia, head and neck abnormalities and others
- dental problems such as an overbite
- Large tongue or tonsillitis
- Vocal and throat problems
Symptoms of dysphagia in children
It is crucial to identify the symptoms properly for children because depending on their age, they may not be able to communicate what they are going through. In addition, the symptoms could be easily mistaken as symptoms of other health problem, which could lead to the improper diagnosis.
Dysphagia symptoms may include:
- Child’s refusal to eat
- Chest congestion after eating or drinking
- Coughing or choking when eating or drinking
- Eating slowly
- Feeling a lump in the throat while eating
- Gagging during feeding
- Getting respiratory infections often
- Having food or liquids come out of the nose during or after a feeding
- Difficulty swallowing
- Spitting up or vomiting often
- Irritability or lack of focus during feeding time
- Weight loss
Dysphagia can be diagnosed using the following tests
Barium swallow and upper GI series
This involves giving the child small amounts of barium to drink and taking a series of X-rays to determine what happens as the child swallows the liquid.
This involves visual examination of the child’s digestive tract using a tube with a light and camera lens.
This involves assessment of the strength and muscle coordination of the child’s esophagus when swallowing.
This test allows the healthcare provider to look at the back of the child’s throat, voice box (larynx) and vocal cords using a scope.
For more information about dysphagia, visit our blog page. myLiquitab technology was developed to help people experiencing difficulties swallowing pills and tablets.