Swallowing is a lot more complicated than people think, involving the mouth and oral cavity, the throat, and the esophagus. Any issues with any of these parts can lead to difficulty swallowing, also known as dysphagia. Dysphagia can occur due to issues with any one of the parts involved in the swallowing process or because of a combination of issues. There are several causes of dysphagia in children, some of which can be treated easily and some of which can stay with them longer. This article aims to discuss the most important and most common of these causes.
Prematurity happens when a child is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Depending on when they are born, a child can develop various issues, one of them being dysphagia. Some premature babies have a malformation in their digestive tracts or have underdeveloped tracts. When the esophagus is underdeveloped or has not formed well, it can cause dysphagia.
Congenital and Developmental Conditions
Congenital conditions are those we are born with while developmental issues are those that affect how kids grow. Some of the congenital and developmental issues that can cause dysphagia to include learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, cleft lip and palate, and others. Learning disorders affect the muscles we use to talk, which are also involved in swallowing. Cerebral palsy affects muscle coordination and movement, while cleft lip and palate result in a split in the upper lip or mouths’ roof, both of which make it harder to chew and, therefore, harder to swallow.
There are too many neurological causes that can cause dysphagia to list them here. To understand how they cause this condition, it is important to understand that the nerves, spinal cord, and brain work together to control your muscles, some of which are responsible for swallowing. Any disease or condition that affects the nervous system can interfere with these muscles and lead to dysphagia.
Some of the neurological conditions that can cause dysphagia to include stroke, tumors, certain cancers, brain injury, muscular dystrophy, and nerve injury. Because these conditions affect the tongue and the muscles in the esophagus and throat, it is important to come up with a solution for children who are unable to swallow, so their nutritional needs can be met.
One of the most common solutions is making foods easier to swallow by adding food thickeners to them. These thickeners slow food down, helping reduce instances of choking and coughing and preventing the food from entering the windpipe and the lungs. The good news is that food thickeners such as those from Simply Thick are great for children and adults alike and can be used for both hot and cold foods and beverages.
Obstructions in the throat or esophagus cause a narrowing that makes swallowing harder. Some causes of these obstructions include certain cancers, esophagitis, radiotherapy, inflammation, and gastroesophageal reflux disease. Gastroesophageal reflux disease can occur in kids but it is a lot more common in adults. It causes scarring and hardening of the esophagus, which leads to obstructions.
Dysphagia can be very serious when left untreated and unattended. Even when understanding the most common causes of dysphagia, you should talk to a doctor if your child suddenly has problems swallowing. It could be an indication of something a lot more serious, such as nerve damage.