Dysphagia – What It Is and What You Need to Know About It
When you have difficulty swallowing from time to time, it’s usually nothing to worry about. However, when this symptom persists, it can indicate a much more serious health issue that needs to be addressed.
Swallowing difficulty, also known as Dysphagia, can happen to people of any age, but it’s much more common among seniors. The reasons why someone might have a problem with swallowing vary and the treatment that is needed is based on the cause of the issue. Here, we share what you need to know about Dysphagia:
Dysphagia: Causes, Symptoms, and More
Dysphagia is a common condition that affects people of all ages and can be caused by various factors, from neurological disorders to physical abnormalities in the throat and esophagus. Dysphagia can be a serious condition; it is important to seek medical attention if you are experiencing any symptoms. This article will explore the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for dysphagia.
Causes of Dysphagia
There are many different causes of dysphagia, including:
Dysphagia can be caused by neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). These conditions can affect the nerves and muscles that control swallowing, making it difficult to swallow food and liquids.
Physical abnormalities can also cause dysphagia in the throat and esophagus. For example, a condition called esophageal stricture can cause the narrowing of the esophagus, making it difficult for food to pass through. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can also cause dysphagia by causing inflammation and damage to the esophagus.
Dysphagia can be a symptom of various types of cancer, including esophageal, throat, and lung cancer. Tumors in the throat or esophagus can make it difficult for food to pass through.
Some medications can cause dysphagia as a side effect. For example, certain antidepressants, antipsychotics, and muscle relaxants can affect the muscles used for swallowing.
Symptoms of Dysphagia
The symptoms of dysphagia can vary depending on the underlying cause. Common symptoms include:
- Difficulty swallowing: The most common symptom of dysphagia is difficulty swallowing, which can manifest as a feeling of food getting stuck in the throat or chest.
- Pain while swallowing: Dysphagia can cause pain or discomfort while swallowing, especially if there is an underlying physical abnormality.
- Regurgitation: Dysphagia can cause food or liquids to come back up into the mouth or throat after swallowing.
- Weight loss: Dysphagia can lead to unintentional weight loss if eating becomes too difficult.
- Coughing or choking: Dysphagia can cause coughing or choking while eating or drinking.
Treatment Options for Dysphagia
The treatment for dysphagia depends on the underlying cause. In some cases, dysphagia can be managed with lifestyle changes, such as eating smaller, more frequent meals or avoiding certain foods. In other cases, medical intervention may be necessary. Some common treatment options for dysphagia include:
- Swallowing therapy: Swallowing therapy is a type of therapy that can help improve swallowing function. This may involve exercises to strengthen the muscles used for swallowing or techniques to improve the coordination of swallowing.
- Medications: Depending on the underlying cause of dysphagia, medications may be prescribed to help manage the symptoms. For example, proton pump inhibitors may be prescribed for GERD, or botulinum toxin injections may be used to relax the muscles used for swallowing.
- Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat dysphagia. For example, surgery may be needed to remove a tumor that is obstructing the esophagus.
- Feeding tubes: In severe cases of dysphagia, a feeding tube may be necessary to ensure adequate nutrition. Feeding tubes can be temporary or permanent and can be inserted through the nose or mouth or directly into the stomach.
Dysphagia is a common condition that various factors can cause. If you are experiencing difficulty swallowing or other symptoms of dysphagia, it is important to seek medical attention from an Urgent Care in Morristown to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment options. With proper diagnosis and treatment, many people with dysphagia are able to manage their symptoms and maintain a good quality of life.
Morristown HC strives to provide the highest quality of care in a comforting and nurturing environment. Our urgent care in Morristown, directly across from Morristown Medical Center, allows us to serve as a bridge between the hospital and home for our patients. We proudly offer a comprehensive continuum of medical services, including rehabilitation therapy, medication management, and more. Learn more about our services today!