Swallowing Disorders

Swallowing disorders or dysphagia is a condition of pain and difficulty in swallowing food, liquid or saliva. This may deprive the calorie intake and pose several complications. Swallowing act involves approximately 50 muscles and many nerves. Dysphagia occurs with the problem in structures involved in swallowing. Several conditions including other nervous system problems, gastrointestinal tract problems, physical malformations, cancers, or stroke may cause dysphagia.

Risk of dysphagia increases with age, smoking, excessive alcoholism, certain medication and dental problems. Dysphagia may be during movement of food from mouth to esophagus (food carrying pipe; or pharyngeal dysphagia) or movement of food from esophagus to stomach (esophageal dysphagia).

If a person is experiencing difficulty in swallowing, coughing while swallowing, reflux of liquid through nose, weak voice, and weight loss the condition is oropharyngeal dysphagia. Whereas if the patients is experiencing pressure sensation in mid-chest area, feel a kind of food stuck in throat or chest, chest pain, belching, severe heart burn and sore throat the condition is esophageal dysphagia.

Various approached are recommended for treatment of mouth swallowing.

  • Muscle exercises to strengthen and improve the coordination of facial muscles
  • Modification in diet – avoiding certain foods or use of thickeners
  • Treatment of underlying medical conditions
  • Surgical techniques – dilation of esophagus
  • Medications relaxing esophagus or relieving spasms, antacids and others
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