Some children have swallowing problems, or dysphagia (dis-FAY-juh). Swallowing happens in three stages, or phases. A child can have a problem in one or more of these phases. They include:
- Oral phase – sucking, chewing, and moving food or liquid into the throat. Feeding is a part of the oral phase.
- Pharyngeal phase – starting the swallow and squeezing food down the throat. The child needs to close off his airway to keep food or liquid out. Food going into the airway can cause coughing and choking.
- Esophageal phase – opening and closing the esophagus, or the tube that goes from the mouth to the stomach. The esophagus squeezes food down to the stomach. Food can get stuck in the esophagus. Or, a child may throw up a lot if there is a problem with the esophagus.