What You Should Know About Dysphagia

Dysphagia refers to difficulty in swallowing. It is different from Odynophagia which means painful swallowing. While one is often mistaken for the other, you must understand how they’re different.

In this post, the provider of the best nursing care in Morristown shares what you need to know about dysphagia:

What Causes Dysphagia?

The most common cause of dysphagia is stroke. Dysphagia also occurs in other neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and certain brain tumors. Dysphagia can also occur in patients with head or neck cancer.

It is possible to have dysphagia and not know it. You may not experience any symptoms if your dysphagia is mild. It may also be attributed to a different cause depending on the patient. Dysphagia is often linked to other challenges such as:

  • Choking
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Speech delay
  • Oral pain

Is It a Serious Concern?

If your doctor suspects you have dysphagia, they will ask you to have a swallowing study done. This is done by having a tube down your throat while being exposed to various foods and liquids.

If your doctor finds that you have a chronic condition, you will likely be referred to an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) physician and speech pathologist for treatment.

What Can I Do about Dysphagia?

Dysphagia should be treated as soon as possible. Quick action can help prevent complications, including aspiration pneumonia and malnutrition.

A speech pathologist will meet with you to help you understand and manage your condition. The goal of treatment will be to help you better control your swallowing.

What Are the Stages of Swallowing?

The stages of swallowing are divided into three phases. The 2nd and 3rd phases occur through a coordinated muscle movement. The 3rd phase occurs when the food or liquid enters the esophagus.

The First Stage

The first stage occurs when you see, smell, and begin to prepare your food or drink. Patients or caregivers should still avoid giving patients anything that risks being aspirated into the lungs.

The Second Stage

The second stage of swallowing occurs when the tongue pushes the food against the roof of the mouth. The patient then makes sure the food is properly placed in the back of their mouth. This part of the swallowing process is controlled by the patient.

The Third Stage

The third and final stage often occurs without the patient’s control. This is the stage when the food or liquid travels down the esophagus to the stomach. It’s during this third stage that patients may experience the feeling of ʺgoing down the wrong pipe.ʺ

Esophageal Diseases That Can Lead to Swallowing Difficulty

Certain diseases affect the esophagus. This can lead to dysphagia and make it difficult for you to swallow. These include:

  • Reflux disease
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Zenkerʹs diverticulum
  • Neurological disorders
  • Esophageal paralysis

Signs and Symptoms of Dysphagia

The most common signs and symptoms of dysphagia include:

  • Choking or coughing
  • Regurgitation of food
  • Regurgitation with a bad taste
  • Feeling of lump in the throat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Weight loss

If your loved one demonstrates any of these signs and symptoms, they should be evaluated by a medical professional right away.

Conclusion

Dysphagia is a common problem, and it can also be a serious condition if left untreated. You or your loved one may not hear about dysphagia very often. It is your responsibility to recognize the symptoms and seek treatment as soon as possible. If for any reason you suspect that you or any of your loved ones has dysphagia, it’s best to seek urgent care in Morristown.

Morristown HC is a reputable center that offers urgent care in Morristown. For any health concerns that do not warrant a trip to the E.R., you can trust Morristown HC to help you. Contact us today to learn more about our services.