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Infant & Child Difficulty Swallowing (Dysphagia) Causes


What causes swallowing difficulty in children?

Swallowing difficulty, also known as dysphagia, is a condition that makes it difficult to transfer food or liquid from the mouth to the stomach, sometimes causing pain. This can from time to time when eating too quickly or when sick, but when dysphagia occurs for a period of time, it may be the result of an underlying condition that requires medical treatment. Dysphagia can affect children and babies, causing difficulty with gaining weight and refusal to eat or drink.

What are the symptoms of pediatric dysphagia?

Symptoms that are associated with difficulty swallowing in a child include:

  • Hoarseness
  • Pain during swallowing
  • Inability to swallow
  • Sensation of something stuck in the throat
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Refusal of food
  • Chest pain / heartburn
  • Needing food cut into smaller pieces

When should I take my child to a doctor for swallowing difficulty?

Anytime that a child experiences inability to swallow or difficulty swallowing for a period of time, contact an ear, nose and throat specialist, such as New York ENT for an evaluation of your condition. Any time there is food or drink stuck in the throat that is inhibiting breathing, go to the nearest emergency department.

How is difficulty swallowing diagnosed?

At New York ENT, our physicians diagnose the cause of your child’s swallowing problem with a physical exam and diagnostic testing. Some of the tests that may be used to help identify the underlying condition may include:

  • X-ray, CT, or MRI scans
  • Swallowing study
  • Endoscopy
  • Fiber-optic endoscopic swallowing evaluation (FEES)
  • Manometry

How is difficulty swallowing treated for children?

Treatment for dysphagia will vary depending on the underlying cause and severity of the condition. Some treatment options include the following:

  • Esophageal dilation
  • Prescription medication
  • Swallowing therapy
  • Feeding tube / liquid diet (for severe conditions)

Speak with your New York ENT doctor to determine the underlying cause of your child’s symptoms and the best treatment option for their condition.

If your child is having difficulty swallowing, the first step is to schedule an evaluation with an experienced ear, nose and throat doctor. Board certified physicians with New York ENT have extensive experience diagnosing and treating a wide variety of throat conditions. Fill out the form on this page or call our office at (212) 873-6168 to schedule an appointment today.

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