Spotting the Signs of Dysphagia in Children: 6 Things to Look Out For

Young children, ranging from toddlers to those who attend school, are all different in their own way. While some of these differences are nothing to worry about, others are more concerning. This includes things like certain medical conditions. 

One medical condition common in young children but often not spoken about is dysphagia. Dysphagia, otherwise known as a swallowing difficulty, is when a child struggles to swallow certain foods or liquids. They may cough or choke when eating certain foods or may refuse some foods altogether. 

Unfortunately, many parents are unsure of how to spot the signs of this condition. So, what are the signs of dysphagia? Here are some common signs of dysphagia in children: 

  • Eating Slowly

If you notice your child eats much slower than other children of the same age, then there’s a possibility they may have dysphagia. Children with dysphagia often eat slower because they worry about swallowing the food they consume.

  • Gulping a Mouthful of Food Several Times

Another common sign of dysphagia in children is taking a long time to swallow a single mouthful of food. You may notice your child repeatedly gulping to try and get the food to go down the esophagus. Thankfully, there are things you can do to make it easier for children to swallow food. For example, you can take them to a speech and language therapist so they can learn new swallowing techniques, or you can look into purchasing a thickener, such as the liquid thickener from SimplyThick. These thickeners make swallowing food and drink much easier and safer for children.

  • Coughing, Choking, or Gagging When Eating or Drinking

A child with dysphagia will struggle to swallow certain foods and drinks. When they try and swallow these items, you may notice them coughing, choking, or gagging. If you spot your child doing this, take them to the doctor for a diagnosis. 

  • Frequent Chest Infections

Chest infections are common in children with dysphagia. This is because when these children swallow their food, it gets stuck in their windpipes instead of going down their esophagus. This can cause infections to occur.

  • Anxious at Mealtimes

Another common sign that your child has dysphagia is if they feel anxious or get moody at mealtimes. They will do anything in their power to avoid sitting down and eating a meal. 

  • Weight Loss

There are lots of conditions that can cause weight loss in children. However, if you have exhausted all of the other possible causes of weight loss, there’s a good chance your child is suffering from dysphagia—children with dysphagia struggle to eat enough food to maintain a healthy weight. 

Millions of children are born in the US each year, and while many are born fit and healthy, some are born with or inherit certain medical conditions. One common medical condition in children is dysphagia. Ensure you know how to spot the signs of this condition to ensure your children don’t become unwell. 

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