Signs and Symptoms

It can be hard to match up symptoms to a specific disorder on your own. An experienced speech pathologist will be able to answer your questions and guide you to the best place to start. 

Swallowing disorders may result from a lack of coordination of the nerves or muscles, or sometimes from infections and tumors.

  • Dysphagia — the sensation of food or fluid being regurgitated or stuck in the chest; also any throat discoordination leading to coughing or choking during swallowing
  • Odynophagia — pain in throat or chest during swallowing

Symptoms of swallowing disorders include:

  • Coughing during or immediately after swallowing
  • Choking — a feeling of food or liquid sticking in the throat or esophagus followed by coughing
  • Regurgitation — the return of food or liquid back to the mouth or pharynx after it successfully passed. This happens effortlessly, unlike vomiting, which involves contraction of abdominal muscles. If the regurgitation tastes like ingested food, it usually indicates a swallowing disorder; if it tastes sour or bitter, that indicates it reached the stomach and it is more likely gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
  • Nasal regurgitation — when food or fluid comes up into the nose; this occurs when the nasopharynx does not close properly
  • Needing to swallow 2-3x
  • Pocketing food on one side of mouth
  • A large amount of extra secretions
  • Gurgly sounding voice after eating or drinking
  • Unknown causes of pneumonia repeating
  • Decreased intake or weight loss
  • Difficulty starting a swallow

Other symptoms may include:

  • Sore throat
  • Hoarseness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest discomfort or pain

Feeding Disorders
Feeding disorders are conditions in which an infant or child is unable or refuses to eat or has difficulty eating, resulting in weight loss, malnutrition, lethargy, impaired intellectual and social-emotional development and growth retardation.

Feeding disorders also include problems gathering food and getting ready to suck, chew, or swallow it. For example, a child who cannot pick up food and get it to her mouth or cannot completely close her lips to keep food from falling out of her mouth may have a feeding disorder.

Behaviors in Feeding Issues

  • Refuses to eat
  • Spits food out of mouth
  • Gags or vomits
  • Verbally says “no” to food
  • Moves head away from spoon
  • Refuses to open mouth
  • Puts hands in front of mouth
  • Throws food or utensils
  • Gags before food is introduced