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Swallowing Disorders

Celebrations Speech Group

Speech Therapist & Pediatric Speech Pathologist located in Brentwood, CA & Stockton, CA & Elk Grove, CA

Swallowing disorders, also called dysphagia, can have a lasting effect on your child’s development and health. In Brentwood, Stockton, and Elk Grove, California, Celebrations Speech Group, diagnoses swallowing disorders and provides personalized therapy to address the condition. If your child coughs or chokes when eating, has food aversions, or other signs of dysphagia, call Celebrations Speech Group or schedule a consultation online today.

Swallowing Disorders

What is a swallowing disorder?

A swallowing disorder, clinically referred to as dysphagia, disrupts the way food or liquid, including saliva, moves from your mouth to your stomach. Dysphagia can interfere with any part of the swallowing process, including the oral, pharyngeal, and esophageal phases. 

Oral phase — chewing and moving food or liquid into your throat. This could include problems chewing or a sensitive “gag” reflex. 

Pharyngeal phase — beginning of the swallowing process, moving food into your throat. You need to close your airway during this process to prevent food or liquid from entering your airway. 

Esophageal phase — your esophagus squeezes food and liquid into your stomach. Food can get trapped in your esophagus or trigger regurgitation.

What are the symptoms of a swallowing disorder?

In children and infants, a swallowing disorder can cause many symptoms, including:

  • Coughing or choking during or after swallowing
  • Problems chewing food
  • Difficulty starting swallowing
  • Drooling
  • Frequent respiratory illness and congestion
  • Gagging
  • Loss of food or liquid while eating
  • Wet, gurgling noises while eating
  • Refusing food because of texture
  • Frequent vomiting

Your child might also become distressed at mealtimes, crying, refusing food, or grimacing. 

Dysphagia can also cause breathing difficulties while eating. Your child might breathe quickly or experience a temporary break in respiration. They might also develop signs of low oxygen saturation, such as blue-ish lips, nose, or fingers. 

How do you evaluate a swallowing disorder?

The team of speech therapists at Celebrations Speech Group provide comprehensive assessments to identify swallowing disorders. They review your child’s history and symptoms and assess their overall physical, social, behavioral, and communicative development.

They might ask you to bring familiar food to evaluate your child’s swallowing function, including the individual mechanics of chewing and moving food into the throat and esophagus. 

The team also monitors your child’s behavior while eating and checks for signs of related respiratory problems.

How is dysphagia treated?

The speech therapists at Celebrations Speech Group create a customized program to help your child cope with a swallowing disorder. Depending on your child’s needs, the program might include solutions like cutting food into smaller pieces or eliminating straws. 

Your speech therapist might also teach your child techniques to make swallowing more manageable, such as tucking their chin to the chest or turning their head to one side when swallowing. 

Your child might also benefit from using good posture while sitting at a dining table, slowing down while eating, and taking care not to talk with their mouth full. 

For expert diagnosis and treatment for swallowing disorders, call Celebrations Speech Group or schedule an appointment online today.