If you’re with an older relative and they’re having trouble swallowing their medicine, don’t make a joke about it being a bitter
pill to swallow. They may have a physical condition called dysphagia.
is a persistent swallowing difficulty. It should not be confused with
problems swallowing due to fast eating or improper chewing. Dysphagia is
most common in older people, but it can occur at any age.
has a number of possible causes, including cancer, neurological damage
or disorders, Zenker’s diverticulum, acid reflux, esophageal spasms, and
a blocked esophagus.
symptoms include more that just the inability to swallow. Patients can
also experience pain, drooling, hoarseness, regurgitation, acid reflux
and heartburn, coughing or choking while eating, weight loss, and the
sensation of food being stuck in the throat.
difficulty isn’t just a mealtime nuisance. People who can’t swallow
their medicine might not be getting appropriate medical care. Not being
able to eat can cause dehydration, weight loss, or even malnutrition.
Food or liquid that enters the airway can cause aspiration pneumonia.
Finally, if someone chokes while eating and the food can’t be dislodged,
it could be fatal.
you have any of the above symptoms, your doctor might recommend further tests. These could range from swallowing studies to endoscopies to
x-rays and CT scans.
treatment is dependent on the cause. In some cases, new swallowing
techniques and exercises could be enough. In others, medicine,
esophageal dilation, or even surgery could be necessary.
you or a loved one is having trouble swallowing, schedule an
appointment with a CEENTA ENT doctor. They will diagnose the cause of
your issue and provide treatment that won’t be hard to swallow.
blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical
questions, please consult your doctor. New patients can make
appointments online with our doctors in North and South Carolina. Current patients can also make appointments through myCEENTAchart with physicians they have already seen.
Did you know that you can strain your voice too hard and create a vocal fold hemorrhage? Learn how to treat this condition with one of CEENTA's voice and swallowing specialists.
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