Information taken from American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA)
WHAT ARE FEEDING AND SWALLOWING DISORDERS (DYSPHAGIA)?
Swallowing disorders (also called dysphagia) refer to problems with feeding and/or swallowing. There are 2 types of dysphagia: oral dysphagia and pharyngeal dysphagia. Oral dysphagia refers to problems using the lips, tongue and mouth in regards to controlling food and liquid. Pharyngeal dysphagia refers to problems in the throat during swallowing. Dysphagia can lead to aspiration.
WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF DYSPHAGIA?
Signs and symptoms of dysphagia:
- Unable to coordinate sucking, swallowing, and breathing during feeding
- Irritability before, during, or after feeding
- Color change or eye reddening during or after feeding
- Coughing or gagging
- Difficulty chewing
- Refusal of food or liquids
- Poor coordination of breathing during feedings
- Poor weight gain
- Recurring pneumonia or respiratory infections
WHAT CAUSES DYSPHAGIA?
Dysphagia is caused by weakness or damage to the muscles or nerves needed for feeding and swallowing. Conditions may include the following:
- Heart or lung problems
- Gastroesophageal disorders (i.e., reflux)
- Oral motor problems
- Cleft palate
- Cerebral palsy
- Brain injury
- Birth defects
OUR APPROACH AT KEY THERAPIES:
We will develop an individualized treatment plan for each child based off of his / her current needs. We may work on strengthening oral motor muscles needed for chewing and swallowing, improving ability to tolerate a variety of foods, and ensuring a safe eating and swallowing program through postural changes. Guidelines will be given for at home practice to ensure safe eating and swallowing in the home environment.