Do I Have a Swallowing Disorder?
Find out if the symptoms you are experiencing are warning you of a potential swallowing disorder.
We all have been guilty of eating foods too fast or not chewing well enough before gobbling down our food, but a swallowing disorder is much different from this. If you have a true swallowing disorder (sometimes also referred to as dysphagia), this simply means that you will need to take more time in order to get food from your mouth to your stomach. In severe cases it may be impossible to swallow altogether. Learn more about what having this condition entails and why it happens.
Symptoms of a swallowing disorder include:
- Needing to take more time or exert more effort to chew or swallow food
- Pain when swallowing
- Choking on food
- Coughing during or right after eating
- Feeling like food is stuck in the throat
- Feeling like there is a “lump” in the throat
- Weight loss, malnutrition or dehydration
- Chest congestion after eating
- Food that feels “stuck”
What causes swallowing disorders?
It isn’t always possible to pinpoint the root cause, but common causes of dysphagia include nervous system disorders, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), cancer, stroke and neurological disorders, to name a few.
How is a swallowing disorder diagnosed and treated?
You will need to visit an otolaryngologist who can evaluate your symptoms, current medical conditions and test the muscles used for swallowing to see if signs point to this problem. Sometimes an endoscopic procedure or a barium swallow is needed for a proper diagnosis.
Treating a swallowing disorder will really depend on the cause, as well as the specific type of dysphasia (esophageal or oropharnygeal). There may be certain exercises that you will need to perform to improve the function of certain muscles. We can also show you certain postures or ways to position yourself to improve swallowing. Patients may also have to remove certain foods from their diet in order to make swallowing easier.
A swallowing disorder can lead to serious issues such as dehydration and malnutrition, among other things. If you are experiencing symptoms of a swallowing disorder it’s time you visited your local ENT doctor for care.