Swallowing & Feeding

 

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    Dysphagia can be vaguely defined as difficulty swallowing.  An estimated 15 million Americans have symptoms of dysphagia (swallowing disorder), with approximately 1 million individuals being diagnosed each year.  Dysphagia may occur in all age groups, from infants to the elderly and result from various medical or congenital conditions.  The degree of the impairment in swallowing and/or feeding may vary from mild to severe.  Symptoms may include coughing or choking while eating, difficulty chewing, and/or problems moving food or liquids through the mouth or throat.  In infants, dysphagia symptoms may include difficulty sucking, initiating the swallow, or coordinating the suck-swallow-breathe sequence when feeding from the breast or bottle.  Children may also have motor, sensory, and/or behavioral feeding impairments that result in poor weight gain/growth, gagging and limited acceptance of food textures and/or tastes.  Individuals with swallowing and/or feeding problems may be at risk for malnutrition, dehydration, respiratory problems, and difficulty when eating in social situations.  A Speech-Language Pathologist can provide evaluation and treatment services to improve swallowing and feeding skills.