Dysphagia is medically defined as pain or difficulty swallowing. Swallowing difficulty may involve solid foods as well as liquids. Dysphagia is a common symptom that often affects older adults and can be caused by a variety of issues.
Common symptoms of dysphagia include pain during swallowing, a sore throat, or a feeling that food is getting stuck in your throat. Individuals diagnosed with dysphagia may also experience choking or coughing while eating or drinking.
Risks of dysphagia increase with diagnosis of conditions such as GE RD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, tumors, a narrowing or stricture of the esophagus, inflammation or infections in the throat, and as a result of throat surgery. Nervous system disorders such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease, strokes and myasthenia gravis are also common causes of dysphagia.
Medical tests including barium swallow studies; endoscopy, CT scans and ultrasound are often utilized to diagnose dysphagia.
Treatment will depend on the cause and severity of the dysphagia, and may range from dietary changes to swallowing therapy or devices implanted in the esophagus to widen pathways.
Other treatment plants may include medication including but not limited to:
Such medications may be beneficial in releasing tension along the esophageal passageway and sphincters. Dilation medications may help expand the diameter of the esophagus, and may reduce the need for mechanical dilation through balloons or other techniques that may bring with them more risks.
An outpatient procedure may involve inflating a balloon inside the esophagus pathway or through the insertion of large dilators known as bougies into the esophagus.
In rare cases, surgeons may perform a radical procedure that involves cutting the muscle layer along the entire length of the esophagus to help relieve narrowing or stricture against the esophagus, if other forms of treatment don't prove effective. In some cases, a doctor may choose to cut muscular fibers of the lower esophageal sphincter in a procedure called a myotomy, which provides an approximately 85% success rate.
Speech therapists and rehabilitation services experts in swallowing therapies and techniques are fully capable of providing noninvasive or nonsurgical treatments, exercises and therapies for individuals of any age diagnosed with dysphagia. Surgical procedures will be performed by an ear, nose and throat specialist or surgeon experienced in dysphagia surgical procedures and outcomes.
Get in touch with us and find out more about your options!