Aspirating is when something enters your airway by accident, this could be food, or liquid. Anyone can aspirate, at any age. It becomes a problem when it starts causing other problems. If you aspirate too much it can cause pneumonia. There are a lot of reasons why someone may aspirate. It can because the muscles don’t work correctly to swallow. Infants can aspirate too. Infants can aspirate because of a cleft palate, problems with esophagus, being born premature, or suffering from another condition such as down syndrome, brain damage, cerebral palsy, neuromuscular disease, or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).
Though there are a lot of causes, some aspiration isn’t harmful. It is only when it happens a lot that it can be harmful. There are a lot of symptoms. Some babies though don’t sign any symptoms which is called silent aspiration. Symptoms can happen immediately after eating or may not happen at all. Your baby doesn’t have to have all the symptoms to be aspirating.
The symptoms are difficulty feeding, coughing during drinking, gagging during meals, back arching during feeding, redness around the eyes during feeding, vomiting during feeding, rattling in chest, frequent breathing difficulties, poor growth, watery eyes, stopping breathing while feeding, or even faster breathing while eating. This list is long, and some of the symptoms can be because of other sickness or disease so you will want to speak with your pediatrician if you think your baby is suffering for any of these.
Left untreated aspiration can cause some complications. Untreated aspiration can lead to dehydration, malnutrition, weight loss, or increased respiratory illness such as pneumonia. You can treat aspiration. Sometimes your baby needs no treatment at all and they will grow out of it in time.
If you believe your child suffers from aspiration you will want to speak with your doctor. Your doctor will ask what symptoms your child is having. They will also look into if your child suffers from difficulties swallowing or suffers from GERD. If they feel like the aspiration is harmful causing other troubles they may do a chest x-ray or CT scan. Other tests can include a modified barium swallow test or a fiber optic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing. Once diagnosed your doctor will have a plan to help treat your child’s aspiration.
The good thing is sometimes your child’s aspiration may go away on it’s own. When your child gets older they may grow out of it if they just suffer from an immature developed esophagus, or GERD. Other minor treatments can be changing posture or position during feeding. You can also try changing the thickness of the liquid or changing the diet your child is on. If your child suffers severely from GERD you can always use medicines to help stop the symptoms from GERD. Since symptoms can come either right after eating or after a few hours after raising the head of the crib can help move food down the esophagus too. If aspiration doesn’t heal from simple fixes or over time your doctor may suggest surgery to help reduce reflux. Other surgery options would be to correct a cleft palate. It all may improve with time as well.
The main thing to do is to make sure your child aspirating isn’t causing more problems. Such as illness or not allowing your child to get enough nutrition. Your child can either show symptoms of aspirating or if they suffer from silent aspiration no symptoms will be present. Your child may grow out of this as they get older, but persistent aspiration can cause a lot of problems and may need further treatment then just daily changes. Aspirating can happen to anyone at any age so if you suspect your child suffers from this reach out to your pediatrician.
Does your baby cough or gag when eating or drinking? Could Infant Aspiration be the problem? Learn more here. #HealthStatus
When your child gets older they may grow out of it if they just suffer from an immature developed esophagus, or GERD.
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