What Is A Swallowing Disorder (Dysphagia)?
Dysphagia is a swallowing disorder that more than 15 million Americans have. They can occur at any age. Swallowing problems may be temporary, or may be an indication of a serious medical problem.
What causes a swallowing disorder?
Some causes of swallowing problems might be due to damage to the nervous system, due to a stroke. For example:
- Brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Muscular dystrophy
- Cerebral palsy
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Problems affecting the neck and head including:
- Cancer in the mouth, throat, or esophagus
- Injury or surgery involving the head and neck
- Decayed or missing teeth, or poorly fitting dentures
What are the symptoms of a swallowing disorder?
Dysphagia can come and go, be mild or severe, or get worse over time. If you have dysphagia you may:
- Have problems getting food or liquids to go down on the first try.
- Gag, choke, or cough when you swallow.
- Have food or liquids come back up through your throat, mouth, or nose after you swallow.
- Feel like food or liquids are stuck in some part of your throat or chest.
- Have pain when you swallow.
- Have pain or pressure in your chest or have heartburn .
- Loose weight because you are not getting enough food or liquid.
How is a swallowing disorder treated?
Your treatment will depend on what is causing your dysphagia. Treatment for dysphagia can include:
- Exercises for your swallowing muscles
- Changing the foods you eat
- In rare cases, a person who has severe dysphagia may need a feeding tube because he or she is not able to get enough food and liquids.