Swallowing is a normal everyday activity that few of us think twice about. However, when swallowing problems arise, it can often lead to a worrying and even uncomfortable experience. We call this dysfunction of swallowing Dysphagia. It can happen to people of all ages, but is more common in the elderly. While most causes are benign and often temporary, dysphagia can be a symptom of something more serious.
Some common symptoms of Dysphagia include:
- Feeling like food or drink stick whenever you swallow
- Sensation of a “lump” in your throat
- Coughing or choking when swallowing or having to regurgitate food
- Feeling that food or drink “go down the wrong way”
- Feeling of discomfort in the chest or throat
Some causes of dysphagia are short lived, but others may persist or even worsen over time. Frequently, the symptoms of dysphagia can be present without there being a true swallowing dysfunction at all. Evaluation will include obtaining a thorough history and physical exam, but may requiring looking at the throat with a special type of flexible endoscope. There are also various types of swallowing studies that can evaluate for both anatomical and functional abnormalities. Some of these may be able to be performed right here in our office. Your ENT specialist will decide which of these will best diagnose your condition.
Treatment for dysphagia will depend on the cause. This could range from dietary changes and medicine to swallowing therapy with our Board Certified Speech Pathologist. In some cases, dysphagia can be a symptom of something more serious like a neurologic disorder or even cancer. Our physicians will guide you to the best treatment once the proper diagnosis is made.