What to expect when you have Swallowing Problem
In medical terminology, Dysphagia is the term used to denote swallowing difficulties. Sufferers of this condition have problems with swallowing certain foods or liquids, whereas some cannot swallow at all.
This condition can range from mild to severe and may occur intermittently. It can take a very heavy toll on the sufferer leaving them physically and emotionally drained. Due to complete inability to take in nourishment, this can lead to further complications for the patient which can be life threatening. Though this condition is common in older adults, it can also manifest its ugly head in children.
But thankfully, with early diagnosis, patients can spare themselves further trouble and start living a healthy life once again.
Some of the symptoms of this condition include:
• Difficulty eating and drinking – risk of malnourishment and dehydration.
• Coughing or choking while trying to eat or drink. Difficulty to swallow may cause food or liquid to enter the wrong way causing blocking of airway, breathing issues and ultimately death.
• Regurgitation sometimes accompanied with blood.
• Pain on trying to swallow.
• Sensation of pain or pressure in chest.
• Weight loss.
• Unable to contain saliva.
Dysphagia may occur due to a host of reasons like neurological, emotional issues, stroke, GERD, throat or mouth cancer, nerve and muscle issues. So it is important to conduct necessary investigations to get to the core of the issue.
If you have any issues with swallowing food or liquids, please consultant our ENT/gasterentrologists. Book an appointment today.
Some of the investigations that need to be performed are:
• X-rays of neck, chest.
• Barium swallow.
• pH monitoring.
Based on the consultantation with the physician and the results of the diagnostics, the patient may be referred to a gastroenterologist, otolaryngologist, neurologist, speech therapist etc…
The treatment would begin after diagnosing the reason and severity of Dysphagia.
Treatments may include:
• Exercises for muscles, nerves helping to swallow, in case of stroke patients.
• Making food and liquid easier to assimilate.
• Stent placement to widen area of esophagus.
In extreme cases, a feeding tube may be required to provide nourishment to the patient. Dysphagia is a condition that should never be neglected as it might be the symptom of an underlying condition. It can lead to complications including malnutrition, dehydration, weight loss, and respiratory issues.
Dysphagia also demands certain lifestyle changes including the change of eating habits, and avoiding alcohol, caffeine and tobacco. Consult our doctors to know more.