Swallowing Disorders

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Swallowing disorders

A swallowing disorder (dysphagia) is when it takes more time and effort to move food or liquid from the mouth to the stomach. Swallowing disorders can be associated with pain, and may make it near impossible to swallow. Occasional difficulty swallowing, which may occur when eating too fast or not chewing food well enough, usually isn't cause for concern. But persistent dysphagia may indicate a serious medical condition requiring treatment. Dysphagia can occur at any age, but it's more common in older adults. The causes of swallowing problems vary, and treatment depends on the cause.

Signs and symptoms associated with swallowing disorders may include:

  • · Having pain while swallowing (odynophagia)
  • · Being unable to swallow
  • · Having the sensation of food getting stuck in your throat or chest or behind your breastbone (sternum)
  • · Drooling
  • · Being hoarse
  • · Bringing food back up (regurgitation)
  • · Having frequent heartburn
  • · Having food or stomach acid back up into your throat
  • · Unexpectedly losing weight
  • · Coughing or gagging when swallowing
  • · Having to cut food into smaller pieces or avoiding certain foods because of trouble swallowing

Swallowing is complex, and a number of conditions can interfere with this process. Sometimes the cause of dysphagia can't be identified. However, dysphagia generally falls into one of the following categories:

  • · Oesophageal dysphagia which is caused by:
    • · Oesophageal dysphagia
    • · Achalasia
    • · Diffuse spasm
    • · Oesophageal stricture
    • · Oesophageal tumours
    • · Oesophageal ring
    • · Gastroesophageal reflux disease
    • · Eosinophilic esophagitis
    • · Scleroderma
  • · Oropharyngeal dysphagia which is caused by
    • · Neurological disorders.
    • · Neurological damage.
    • · Pharyngeal diverticula.
    • · Cancer.