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Symptoms of FD usually begin during infancy and become worse with age. These symptoms can include:

  • Poor sucking, with difficulty swallowing

  • Frequent choking and gagging

  • Repeated vomiting

  • Poor weight gain

  • Frequent lung infections caused by food and stomach juices that enter the lungs when the child chokes or vomits

  • No flow of tears when the child cries

  • Ulcers on the cornea, the clear membrane that covers the colored outside part of the eye

  • Fewer taste buds than normal, especially on the front of the tongue

  • Red skin blotches and excessive sweating, especially when the child eats or becomes excited

  • Breath-holding spells that can cause fainting

  • Slurred speech or a "nasal" voice

  • Delayed development, especially difficulty walking

  • Sores (ulcers) on the tongue caused by teeth rubbing against the area

  • Decreased sense of pain and body position, which leads to frequent accidental injuries

  • Curvature of the spine (scoliosis) and deformed joints

  • Abnormally high or low body temperature and blood pressure

  • Episodes of abnormally fast, slow or irregular heartbeat

  • Loss of bladder control (enuresis)

  • Delayed puberty, especially in girls

  • Decreased reflexes and muscle tone

Some children with FD may have repeated episodes of vomiting, called autonomic crises, which can occur every 15 to 20 minutes and can last for more than 24 hours. During these episodes, the child also may have very high blood pressure, a drenching sweat, skin blotches, pain in the abdomen, difficulty breathing and other symptoms. These episodes can be triggered by emotional or physical stress such as an infection.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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