Swallowing Disorders (Dysphagia) Treatment Specialist Q&A
At Southern ENT Associates, swallowing disorders (dysphagia) is one of the many areas in that we specialize. If you’re experiencing difficulty swallowing, or have symptoms that are causing disruptions in your day-to-day life, contact us at your earliest convenience or book an appointment, we’re committed to getting you on the road to recovery. We have convenient locations to serve you in Thibodaux LA, Houma LA, Raceland LA, Morgan City LA, New Iberia LA, and Youngsville LA.
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Many muscles and nerves work in tandem with each other to perform the function of swallowing. This is an important process as it allows for food and drinks to get from our mouths to our stomachs, allowing for vital nutrients to be absorbed by the body. Issues with swallowing, whether they stem from the mouth, throat, or esophagus, can create distressing and uncomfortable problems to arise. In these cases, it’s important to consult an ENT specialist who can help you identify what the problem is, where it’s stemming from, and what the best treatment is to correct the issue.
Swallowing disorder, also known as dysphagia, is a medical condition characterized by difficulty swallowing due and getting food to pass from the mouth into the stomach. It is often the result of a coinciding medical disorder or a physical blockage in the mouth or esophagus area.
While occasional difficulty swallowing is completely normal, such as when you eat too fast or don’t chew your food properly, persistent difficulties are indicative of a more serious condition requiring medical treatment.
Symptoms of a swallowing disorder may vary from person to person and may also differ in their severity. The most common signs associated with dysphagia are:
• Acid reflux
• An inability to swallow
• Coughing, gagging, or spasms when swallowing
• Feeling like food is stuck in your throat, chest, or sternum
• Frequent bouts of heartburn
• Hoarseness of the voice
• Pain and discomfort while swallowing
• Regurgitation / vomiting
• Weight loss
Difficulty swallowing can lead to malnutrition, weight loss, dehydration, aspiration pneumonia, and choking. All of these are dangerous conditions that can lead to serious medical problems and, in some severe cases, death.
If you should contact your healthcare provider or a licensed ENT if you regularly have difficulty swallowing and are experiencing symptoms that are disruptive to your life. If there is a physical obstruction that is interfering with your breathing, your or a loved one should call for emergency help immediately.
There is not once specific cause of swallowing disorders as they can stem from many disorders, conditions, and diseases. Due to this, doctors separate swallowing disorders into three different factions based on what’s responsible for causing them. They are:
• Oral cavity dysphagia. This denotes that the problem is stemming from the mouth. Common causes include difficulty chewing food, neuromuscular problems that interfere with the mechanic of chewing, and tongue weakness after stroke.
• Oropharyngeal dysphagia. This implied that the problem is taking place somewhere in the throat. This is often due to a neurological or muscular problem.
• Esophageal dysphagia: This refers to swallowing problems that occur due to an issue in the esophagus. This may be caused by something blocking or compressing the esophagus if there are pockets or sores in the esophagus, or if there’s a muscular disorder in that area.
Due to the complex nature of swallowing disorders, it’s always best to consult an ENT specialist who can get to the root cause of your issue and custom design a treatment plan based on your unique needs.
Swallowing disorders use a multifaceted approach to treatment that varies depending on the cause and severity of the problem. Treatment may include:
• Botox injections
• Dietary and lifestyle changes
• Prescription medication
• Speech language pathology
The length and intensity of treatment will depend on your unique needs and will be outlined by your doctor or ENT specialist.
If you’re looking for more information about treatment for swallowing disorders or would like one of our specialists to provide insight on your condition, reach out to us at Southern ENT Associates. We’re always happy to answer any questions that you have so that you can feel comfortable and confident with your treatment decision. We serve patients from Thibodaux LA, Houma LA, Raceland LA, Morgan City LA, New Iberia LA, Youngsville LA, and surrounding areas!
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