A symptom referring to difficulty in swallowing. It may be observed in patients with stroke, motor neuron disorders, cancer of the throat or mouth, head and neck injuries, Parkinson disease, and multiple sclerosis

Symptoms of Dysphagia

The following features are indicative of Dysphagia:
  • pain while swallowing
  • unable to swallow
  • sensation of food getting stuck in throat or chest or behind breastbone
  • drooling
  • regurgitation
  • frequent heartburn
  • food or stomach acid back up into throat
  • unexpectedly losing weight
  • coughing or gagging when swallowing

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Common Causes of Dysphagia

The following are the most common causes of Dysphagia:
  • achalasia
  • diffuse spasm
  • esophageal stricture
  • esophageal tumors
  • foreign bodies
  • esophageal ring

Other Causes of Dysphagia

The following are the less common causes of Dysphagia:
  • multiple sclerosis
  • muscular dystrophy
  • Parkinson's disease
  • gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • eosinophilic esophagitis
  • scleroderma
  • radiation therapy
  • stroke
  • pharyngeal diverticula
  • cancer

Risk Factors for Dysphagia

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Dysphagia:
  • increasing age
  • neurological disorders
  • nervous system disorders
  • older adults

Prevention of Dysphagia

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Dysphagia. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • eat slowly
  • chew food well
  • early detection of GERD

Occurrence of Dysphagia

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Dysphagia cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Very common > 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Dysphagia can occur at any age.

Common Gender

Dysphagia can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Dysphagia

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Dysphagia:
  • Barium X-ray: To see changes in the shape of esophagus and to assess the muscular activity
  • Dynamic swallowing study: To see problems in the coordination of mouth and throat muscles when swallowing and determine whether food is going into breathing tube
  • Endoscopy: To visualise the esophagus
  • Fiberoptic endoscopic swallowing evaluation (FEES): To test the swallowing
  • Esophageal muscle test (manometry): To measure the muscle contractions of esophagus
  • Imaging scans: To create detailed images of organs and tissues

Doctor for Diagnosis of Dysphagia

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Dysphagia:
  • Gastroenterologist
  • Speech pathologist

Complications of Dysphagia if untreated

Yes, Dysphagia causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Dysphagia is left untreated:
  • malnutrition
  • weight loss
  • dehydration
  • pneumonia
  • upper respiratory infections

Procedures for Treatment of Dysphagia

The following procedures are used to treat Dysphagia:
  • Esophageal dilation: To gently stretch and expand the width of esophagus or pass a flexible tube or tubes to stretch the esophagus
  • Surgery: To clear the esophageal path
  • Feeding tube: To bypass the part of swallowing mechanism that isn't working normally

Self-care for Dysphagia

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Dysphagia:
  • Try eating smaller, more-frequent meals: To help ease symptoms
  • Trying foods with different textures: To avoid foods that trouble
  • Avoid alcohol, tobacco and caffeine: To avoid heartburn

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Dysphagia

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Dysphagia:
  • Exercises: Help coordinate swallowing muscles or stimulate the nerves that trigger the swallowing reflex
  • Learning swallowing techniques: Help to swallow food easily

Patient Support for Treatment of Dysphagia

The following actions may help Dysphagia patients:
  • Talk to speech pathologist: Teaches new ways to swallow and to avoid choking and gagging

Time for Treatment of Dysphagia

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Dysphagia to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • In 1 - 4 weeks

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Dysphagia.
Plummer-Vinson Syndrome

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