Dysphagia is a medical condition related to the swallowing of food. The most common cause is acid reflux disease. Difficulty in swallowing means a patient is taking time for food to reach the stomach. It can be painful, and sometimes a person cannot swallow at all.
When people eat too fast or don’t chew food correctly, it isn’t a cause of concern. But if the situation persists, it is a serious medical condition.
If someone is facing difficulty swallowing food for an extended period, they must consult a doctor. The person can approach the Best GI Doctors to be aware of the condition and get it diagnosed.
Three types of dysphagia include:
- Oral dysphagia: if the problem is in the mouth. It can be caused by tongue weakness or difficulty in transporting food from the mouth.
- Pharyngeal dysphagia: if it is in the throat. It can be caused by Parkinson’s disease (a neurological condition affecting nerves), stroke, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
- Esophageal dysphagia: the problem is with the esophagus. It is because of blockage, a surgical procedure is recommended.
If someone is having pain while swallowing, the condition is odynophagia and is different from dysphagia. Most of the time, both conditions occur at the same time. The sensation of blockage in the throat is known as globus pharyngis.
How can dysphagia be caused?
Various causes of dysphagia include:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is an incurable form of neurodegeneration (the nerves in the spine and brain lose function).
- Achalasia: It is the condition when the lower esophageal muscle doesn’t relax to allow passage for food into the stomach.
- Diffuse spasm: Esophageal muscles contract in an uncoordinated pattern.
- Stroke: death of brain cells due to ischemia ( lack of oxygen because blood flow is reduced). If brain cells controlling swallowing are affected, it leads to dysphagia.
- Myasthenia gravis (Goldflam disease): voluntary muscles become quickly tired and weak because of disruption in nerve stimulation. It is an autoimmune disorder.
- Swallowing therapy: The patient here learns new ways of swallowing. It is done by a speech and language specialist. Exercise will improve the response of muscles.
- Diet: Combinations of foods and liquids are easier to swallow. Although with this, a balanced diet is essential.
- Feeding through the tube: in case of pneumonia, malnutrition, or dehydration, the patient is usually provided by nasal tube or PEG (percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy). These tubes are surgically implanted in the stomach directly and pass through an incision in the abdomen.
However, there are many causes and various treatment methods a person can follow; moreover, they can consult their doctor for medications and diet. Above mentioned treatments are helpful for patients having swallowing difficulty.