Aerodigestive conditions

Aerodigestive conditionsThe trachea is the tube used to breathe through (windpipe).

The esophagus is the tube used to swallow food. It takes the food to our stomach (food tube).

The larynx is the voice box. It opens for breathing and gently closes to make sounds. It closes more firmly when swallowing.

  • Airway anomaly is when a part of the airway grows differently than it should. It can cause noisy breathing, cough, or problems with swallowing. It may affect the voice. Not all airway anomalies will require treatment.
  • Airway obstruction is a blockage in any part of the passages we breathe through. It can happen anywhere from the nose, mouth, voice box, trachea and branches extending into the lungs. It can be mild to severe.
  • Chronic aspiration - Aspiration occurs when food, drink, or saliva enter the airway or lungs during swallowing. If it happens over a long period of time, it is called chronic aspiration.
  • Dysphagia is a swallowing problem or disorder that may involve problems in the mouth (oral), throat (pharynx) and/or esophagus. Dysphagia can occur because of problems in the brain, nerves, muscles as well as a blockage in the esophagus.
  • Esophageal atresia is when children are born with an esophagus that is not connected all the way to the stomach. This prevents babies from swallowing.
  • Esophageal stricture is when part of the esophagus is too narrow for food or liquid to pass. This can happen before your child was born or it may have happened after surgery It can also happen later in life.
  • Laryngomalacia, tracheomalacia, and bronchomalacia - Malacia describes cartilage or bone that is too soft. Patients can have malacia in more than one place.
  1. Laryngomalacia is when parts of the opening of the larynx are too soft or floppy. It can cause problems with breathing and swallowing.
  2. Tracheomalacia is when the trachea is too soft and floppy.
  3. Bronchomalacia: Bronchi are the smaller air passages that branch off the trachea within the lungs. When these smaller airways are too floppy, it is called bronchomalacia.
  • Laryngeal cleft - A laryngeal cleft is when the esophagus and trachea are partly connected at the top. This can cause liquid to leak into the trachea when swallowing. Laryngeal cleft is diagnosed by feeling for it while under anesthesia. There are many ways to treat laryngeal clefts. The method used depends on how large the cleft is.
  • Recurrent pneumonia - Pneumonia is an infection of one or both lungs. It can be caused by bacteria or viruses. Frequent pneumonia may need more testing. It may happen because of chronic aspiration or a problem with the immune system.
  • Sialorrhea is too much drooling. It can be caused by a problem swallowing the saliva. It may also be caused by low muscle strength, or a blockage in the esophagus.
  • Stridor - If the airway is partly blocked at or near the larynx, a high-pitched sound is made. This is because the air is squeezed through it. This is called stridor. Some patients have stridor when breathing in and breathing out.
  • Tracheal atresia is when the trachea does not connect to the lungs. It is found right after birth and needs urgent treatment.
  • Tracheoesophageal fistula is an opening between the trachea and the esophagus. This problem can cause liquid or food to leak into the trachea. It is common in babies with esophageal atresia. Babies will cough, choke or turn blue after eating. Treatment will prevent choking and lung infections caused by food leaking into the lungs.
  • Tracheal stenosis is when a part of the trachea is too narrow.
  • Vascular rings and slings - Sometimes a blood vessel can loop around the trachea or the esophagus. These loops are called vascular rings or vascular slings. Not all vascular rings need treatment. However, if they cause symptoms we often suggest treatment. The most common symptoms are:
  1. Problems breathing due to pressure on the trachea.
  2. Problems swallowing due to pressure on the esophagus.
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