It’s natural to take everyday activities like breathing, eating and swallowing for granted. But when something goes wrong that can affect all of those, it can impact your child’s overall quality of life. That’s why Nemours has a special a program that includes multiple specialists to treat complex conditions of the airway, lungs and digestive tract. And we can coordinate appointments so your child can see the experts they need in one visit.
Aerodigestive Disorders Program
Help for Kids With Both Breathing & Digestion Problems
Conditions We Treat
Dozens of disorders can change how children eat, breathe or swallow. Sometimes babies are born with an aerodigestive disorder. Others may develop one over time.
The conditions we treat vary depending on the location and providers selected:
- airway stenosis (when the voice box, windpipe or its branches to the lungs are too narrow)
- aspiration (breathing food, liquid or saliva into the lungs)
- breathing problems caused by narrowed or weak airways
- congenital pulmonary airway malformation (a mass of lung tissue that develops before birth)
- eosinophilic esophagitis (inflammation of the tube connecting the throat and the stomach, making the opening narrow)
- esophageal atresia (when the esophagus — the tube that connects to the stomach — doesn’t connect to the stomach like it should)
- esophageal diverticuli (pockets on the inside side of the esophagus that can trap food)
- esophageal stricture (when the esophagus is narrow)
- feeding and swallowing problems (including dysphagia and trouble using feeding tubes)
- foreign body management (when children swallow something they shouldn’t)
- gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD; when stomach contents pass upward through the esophagus)
- intestinal anatomy issues (when the intestines aren’t formed properly)
- laryngeal cleft (when an abnormal opening allows food and liquid to pass through the voice box into the lungs)
- laryngomalacia (softening of the tissues of the voice box and the most common cause of noisy breathing in infants)
- sleep apnea (when breathing keeps stopping and starting during sleep)
- subglottic cysts (sores on the voice box just below the vocal cords)
- tracheoesophageal fistula (an unusual connection between the tube that leads to the stomach and the tube that leads to the lungs)
- tracheomalacia (thin or weak windpipe)
- tracheostomy issues (when there are problems with a tracheostomy, or “trach” — a plastic tube inserted directly through the skin into the windpipe to help a child breathe)
- vocal cord weakness or paralysis (when nerve signals don’t reach the voice box)
Services We Offer
We offer a variety of treatment services, which may vary depending on the condition or location, including:
- nutritional counseling and education (to help your child maintain healthy eating habits)
- rehabilitation (to improve your child’s well-being and help them perform everyday tasks)
- social work (to help you cope and find resources)
- speech pathology (therapy to help your child speak clearly, eat and swallow)
- surgery when necessary (like airway reconstruction), even on the tiniest newborns
Why Choose Us
Nemours’ large, skilled teams work together to treat aerodigestive disorders in kids. Our doctors, physician assistants (PAs), advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs) and other specialists help children with the physical, social and emotional aspects of these sometimes complex disorders. And our coordinator can schedule appointments with multiple specialists on the same day at your convenience.
Regional Aerodigestive Disorders Highlights
Services, programs and care teams differ at each location. Call for details.
We offer aerodigestive care at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children (Wilmington, Del.) and select satellite Nemours duPont Pediatrics locations.
- large care team includes specialists from otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat), pulmonology, sleep medicine, gastroenterology and speech therapy
- team works together to limit the number of tests, exposure to radiation and anesthesia required to make a diagnosis and plan treatment
- nationally renowned clinical and research reputation
We offer aerodigestive care at Nemours Children’s Hospital (Orlando) and select satellite Nemours Children’s Specialty Care locations.
- large care team includes specialists from otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat), pulmonology, gastroenterology and surgery
- support services that may include specialists in pain management, genetic testing and counseling, medical imaging, rehabilitation, speech therapy and social work
- extensive clinical research on aerodigestive disorders, from common ones like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) to rare conditions
- large care team includes specialists from otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat) pulmonology, gastroenterology and surgery, with added support from anesthesiology, nutrition, social work, speech therapy and medical play therapy
- program supported by experts at Nemours and beyond — Wolfson Children’s Hospital, Mayo Clinic and University of Florida Health, Jacksonville
- partnerships that allow us to offer 24-hour care, including for emergencies, consultations and hospital visits