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If we talk about infant feeding we can see that there are children who can suffer from different phobias to different degrees. Some of these food phobias are very common in a certain age period, and most will subside if some guidelines are followed.
Within all the food phobias that exist we are going to focus on phagophobia, They are children with a fear of swallowing and it is due to the fear of choking when they swallow food, both liquid and solid. In some isolated cases it also occurs in adults.
Phagophobia is, as we already know, a psychological problem suffered by those people who have experienced a traumatic event related to the act of swallowing. Traumatic experiences are the roots of this disease. They can be lived:
- In first person. Living the experience of choking on some food in the first person, usually in childhood, impresses him in such a way that he begins to fear the act of swallowing.
- Spectator. Others live the experience of choking but have witnessed this event. This scene remains in the mind of the individual and begins to fear the act of swallowing.
Other causes that can produce it are:
- Having suffered a painful pharyngitis that has prevented you from swallowing without pain.
- Stop eating due to fear of vomiting and feeling pain.
- A gastroenteritis or a glut associated with certain foods may be enough to generate the fear of swallowing.
- The violent attitude of parents towards their children.
Sexual abuse in childhood Other causes that have been determined are bullying that children may suffer at mealtime due to the violent attitude of parents. Also child sexual abuse can be a cause of phagophobia.
Phagophobia is not experienced with the same intensity. Some suffer from rapid heartbeat, sweating, nausea, dry mouth, and even difficulty breathing. In more extreme cases, vomiting may occur, feeding back the fear of swallowing.
This whole mechanism begins before sitting down at the table. The person or child with phagophobia begins to notice symptoms as mealtime approaches and start thinking about it, recreate what is going to happen. He anticipates the problem and creates a sense of distress.
The anxiety that this anguish produces gives way to the aforementioned symptoms. This produces stress, which causes gagging and a feeling of suffocation creating the impression that the musculature of the pharynx closes, which together with the shortness of breath confirms the idea of the inability to swallow. It is a vicious cycle that fuels the phobia.
The permanent fear of choking sometimes provokes such a fear that the child may stop feeding, resulting in medical complications related to vitamins or minerals. The child suffers from malnutrition, sometimes confused with anorexia nervosa.
In addition, the child experiences discomfort on a psychological level since there are many social situations that he cannot share with others since he feels lack of control.
- Patience. Getting angry or compelling won't do any good. The important thing is that the child regain the habit of eating and for this patience is needed. Adults have to help with their attitude and not make the situation worse by increasing stress and anguish.
- Understanding. It is difficult to remain calm every day but it is important for the child to feel understood as it is a situation that affects him as well. Being understanding will be an attitude that helps a lot to overcome the fear of eating.
- Food in its time. It is important that mealtime is not prolonged. It is preferable that the portions are small to be more than 1 hour eating. If the child feels overwhelmed it is better to remove the plate and eat it later (at dinner for example). It is important to do it without arguing or getting angry, just ask if you want more. If it says no, withdraw it.
- Do not talk about the problem with other people in front of the child. Children know when they are talked about. The little one will worry twice as much when they hear the concern of the adults when they discuss the subject with each other. In general, it is good to try not to make it too obvious, because that puts more stress on the child.
It will also be important that:
- The whole family eat together at the table.
- Everyone eat the same menu.
- Food is healthy and varied
You can read more articles similar to Children afraid to swallow, in the category of Fears on site.