Difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia) is common among all age groups, especially the elderly. This may be caused by many factors, most of which are temporary and not threatening. Difficulties in swallowing rarely represent a more serious disease, such as a tumor or a progressive neurological disorder. When the difficulty does not clear up by itself in a short period of time, you need to consult an ENT Specialist like Dr. Leeman.
Symptoms of swallowing disorders may include:
- A feeling that food or liquid is sticking in the throat
- Discomfort in the throat or chest (when reflux is present)
- A sensation of a foreign body or “lump” in the throat
- Weight loss and inadequate nutrition due to prolonged or more significant problems with swallowing
- Coughing or choking caused by bits of food, liquid, or saliva not passing easily during swallowing, and being sucked into the lungs
- Voice change
Many of these disorders can be treated with medication. Drugs that slow stomach acid production, muscle relaxants, and antacids are a few of the many medicines available. Dr. Leeman will tailor treatment plans to the particular cause of the swallowing disorder.
Once the cause is determined, swallowing disorders may be treated with:
- Swallowing therapy
Dr. Leeman may recommend a surgical procedure called a myotomy if a narrowing exists in the throat or esophagus. This surgery effectively dilates or stretches muscles that are too tight.