Difficulty swallowing, known as dysphagia, can be a hindrance to enjoying simple pleasures like savoring your favorite latte from Spill the Beans. While occasional difficulty swallowing is common, persistent swallowing issues may require treatment from an ENT specialist.
What Are the Different Types of Dysphagia?
Approximately one in 25 adults in the United States will experience a swallowing problem each year. Dysphagia can be categorized into three types based on the affected part of the swallowing process: esophageal, pharyngeal and oral.
Esophageal dysphagia occurs when food struggles to move down the esophagus, the tube connecting the stomach to the throat. Pharyngeal dysphagia refers to the difficulty in food passage through the throat. Oral dysphagia involves problems with moving food or liquid from the mouth to the throat, often due to issues with the tongue or jaw.
How Do You Know If You Have Dysphagia?
Persistent or severe dysphagia can have an adverse impact on your daily life. Recognizing the symptoms of dysphagia is crucial for early intervention. Individuals with dysphagia may experience pain in the throat or chest while swallowing, a sensation of food being hard to swallow, coughing during or after eating, regurgitation of food or liquid, choking or nasal regurgitation when fluid or food enters the nose.
In some cases, dysphagia symptoms may occur independently of eating or drinking, manifesting as a sore throat, hoarseness, shortness of breath, chest pain, acid reflux or vomiting.
What Are Your Treatment Options?
Addressing dysphagia requires a tailored approach based on its underlying cause. Common causes include problems with esophageal muscle motility, structural abnormalities in the esophagus, eosinophilic esophagitis (a chronic allergic condition causing inflammation in the esophagus) and neurological issues affecting the mouth, throat and esophageal function.
When seeking treatment for dysphagia, consulting an ENT specialist is recommended. The specialist may propose various treatment options depending on the individual’s condition. Medications such as antacids, muscle relaxants and acid-production inhibitors could be prescribed to manage dysphagia symptoms.
In some cases, surgery may be necessary to stretch or dilate the esophagus, facilitating easier passage of food and liquids.
Swallowing therapy is another potential avenue involving techniques to help the nerves and muscles responsible for healthy swallowing. This therapy often focuses on improving the range of motion, coordination, and strength of the jaw, lips and tongue muscles.
If dysphagia is affecting your quality of life and preventing you from enjoying meals, it is crucial to seek professional help. Contact Spartanburg | Greer ENT & Allergy today to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists who can provide accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment options.