Advice & Guidance on Raising a Child with Swallowing Issues

Last updated on January 8th, 2024 at 01:38 pm

Raising a child with swallowing problems, or else actually having received the diagnosis from your medical doctor that your child has dysphagia, adds another element when wanting to prepare healthy meals so they grow big and strong. In an effort to help you do just that, continue reading for some valuable advice and guidance on raising a child with swallowing issues. 

toddler holding camera
Photo by Tuấn Kiệt Jr. on Pexels.com

Understand the Swallowing Process Yourself

If you have never had an issue with eating and swallowing, it can be difficult to understand and often somewhat frustrating when your child simply cannot eat food normally and quickly like you would expect.

It is for this reason that it may well help you to understand the swallowing process yourself, which involves three separate stages. 

The first stage of swallowing is the oral preparation stage, whereby the food is moistened and then chewed using the enzymes in saliva, and the liquids and solids are pushed towards the throat and the back of the mouth by the tongue. 

The second stage, the Pharyngeal Stage, is when the food enters the throat cavity and quickly passes through to the esophagus, and the third, the Esophageal Stage, is when the simple presence of gravity allows the food and drink to pass through into the stomach. 

Helping Your Child to Navigate Swallowing

Just as for yourself and your partner, foods are always going to be more appetizing when they look and smell nice, which is why an excellent suggestion to help your child actually wantto eat their healthy dinner is to use a food thickening agent Simply Thick nectar-like consistency thickener

There are several tried and tested methods of helping a child with dysphagia when it comes to mealtimes and even snacking, including the following:• Special medications to help food and drink move through the digestive system• Staying upright while eating and for at least half an hour afterwards• Surgery to repair any issues with the stomach or esophagus• Thickening food and drink prior to consumption• Medicines to lower the rate at which the stomach produces acid

Causes of Dysphagia and Other Swallowing Problems

In some children and, indeed, adults, dysphagia and other swallowing issues are only temporary, and it may well be the case that in a few weeks, months, or next year, your child will be eating and drinking normally and free from issues.

As is often the case with any medical issue, there are numerous causes and suspected catalysts for the development of swallowing problems and more specific reasons in children, like if a child has an enlarged tonsil or tongue, prematurity, achalasia, a cleft lip or a cleft palate, or even temporary or permanent vocal cord paralysis.

Other key causes of dysphagia and other swallowing issues include eosinophilic esophagitis, which is a severe allergy thatcan damage the throat and surrounding muscles, and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) which is when the gastric contents of the stomach travel in part back along the tube connecting the stomach to the mouth.

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