What Is a Swallowing Disorder?
A swallowing disorder is characterized by difficulty or inability to safely and effectively transport the food or liquid bolus from the mouth, through the pharynx and into the esophagus. A swallowing disorder can result in aspiration or food “going down the wrong pipe”. Aspiration can place a child at a higher risk for respiratory/pulmonary issues.
How Common Are Swallowing Disorders and Who Is Affected?
How Are Swallowing Disorders Diagnosed?
The most common way to diagnosis a swallowing disorder is by having a Video Swallow Study done, which is a video X-ray during swallowing. The child sits in a specialized seat similar to a car seat and is then given a variety of foods and liquids to assess the swallow. This test assesses the ability to control liquids and foods and looks for aspiration.
If a swallowing disorder is identified, therapists work to develop a plan to allow for safe and effective intake of foods and liquids. This might include thickening liquids to a safe consistency or decreasing the flow of liquid from the bottle. Swallowing disorders can be assessed and treated by a speech language pathologist or an occupational therapist.