Difficulty swallowing means it takes more time and effort to move food or liquid from your mouth to your stomach. Difficulty swallowing may also be associated with pain. In some cases, swallowing may be impossible. The signs and symptoms are:
• Having pain while swallowing
• Being unable to swallow
• Having the sensation of food getting stuck in your throat or chest or behind your breastbone (sternum)
• 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
HOW IS TROUBLE SWALLOWING DIAGNOSED?
The diagnosis is done by a test called upper endoscopy (EGD) is often done. An endoscope is a flexible tube with a light on the end. It is inserted through the mouth and down through the esophagus to the stomach. Other tests may include:
• Barium swallow and other swallowing tests
• Chest x-ray
• Esophageal pH monitoring (measures acid in the esophagus)
• Esophageal manometry (measures pressure in the esophagus)
• Neck x-ray
HOW IS TROUBLE SWALLOWING TREATED?
The best way to treat dysphagia is to treat the specific cause. To help relieve symptoms, doctors usually advise people to take small bites and chew food thoroughly. People with dysphagia caused by a stroke may benefit from treatment by a rehabilitation specialist. Rehabilitation measures may involve changing head position while eating, retraining the swallowing muscles, doing exercises that improve the ability to accommodate a lump of food in the mouth, or doing strength and coordination exercises for the tongue. People who cannot swallow without a high risk of choking may need to stop eating and be fed through a feeding tube placed through the wall of their abdomen into their stomach or small intestine.
DID YOU KNOW?
A feeding tube may be used if a person has extreme difficulty in swallowing