Sometimes you have difficulty swallowing – but it passes and is really no need for concern. But some people suffer from a condition known as dysphagia -- a chronic difficulty swallowing -- and they don’t even know it. If chronic difficulty swallowing goes untreated, you’re at a higher risk for developing pneumonia, which results when you inhale saliva or food particles.
When you have dysphagia, eating becomes uncomfortable and you’re at risk for becoming dehydrated and malnourished.
Don’t suffer needlessly. If you display any of the following symptoms regularly and suspect dysphagia, or you think a family member has the condition, contact us here at GastroDoxs in Cypress, Texas, for evaluation and treatment.
Symptoms that occur when swallowing
Pain when swallowing, clinically known as odynophagia, or the inability to swallow altogether are primary signs of dysphagia. If you cough or gag when you swallow or cut your food into super tiny pieces or avoid certain foods altogether, you should be evaluated for dysphagia. You may also suspect dysphagia if you regularly have the sensation that food is stuck in your throat or chest.
Drooling or frequent heartburn may be signs of dysphagia. If you have the sensation of stomach acid backing up into your throat, it may feel like acid reflux, but it could be dysphagia. If once food has seemed to go down, you regurgitate, it could be another indication. Having a hoarse voice on a regular basis indicates a problem with swallowing, too.
Unexpected weight loss because you’re eating less is common in people who have dysphagia, as is malnutrition and weakness. You just eat less or skip nutritious foods that are difficult to chew, such as fibrous vegetables and meats.
When the team here at GastroDoxs suspects dysphagia, you’ll undergo a series of diagnostics. These include evaluation by a speech-language pathologist and potentially an endoscopy, in which Dr. Pothuri uses a camera to look down into your esophagus. A dysphagia evaluation typically includes a barium swallow test, during which you swallow a barium-containing liquid so details in your esophagus show up better on an X-ray.
Treatment depends on the cause of your dysphagia. In some people, optimal food placement or learning some exercises that help you better coordinate your swallowing muscles is enough to resolve your issues.
If you have spasming or tightening of the esophagus, Dr. Pothuri may suggest a procedure to widen your esophagus or surgery to remove tumors or bony outgrowths in the area. Medications associated with GERD may also help to reduce your symptoms.
In cases where swallowing difficulties are not easily resolved, such as with Parkinson’s disease, Dr. Pothuri may recommend a special diet with the proper consistency for your type of swallowing problem. In severe cases of dysphagia, you may need a feeding tube inserted to bypass your dysfunctional swallowing system.
After your assessment, Dr. Pothuri will give you specific recommendations for what kinds of liquids (thin versus thick) and foods will work best to provide the texture and consistency that works best for you.
The team at GastroDoxs is here for you when you suspect issues with swallowing that are seriously affecting your health and life. Call the office or schedule an appointment using this website for a consultation and evaluation.