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Difficulty Swallowing Tips

Dysphagia - Know More About It In Detail!

Dr. Anurag Tandon 89% (68 ratings)
MS - ENT, Diploma in Otorhinolaryngology (DLO), MBBS
ENT Specialist, Delhi
Dysphagia - Know More About It In Detail!

Swallowing food comes naturally to human beings. But when there is a problem, it is usually called Dysphagia. Esophagus, a muscular tube-like organ located at the back of our throat, usually helps in swallowing food and transferring them to our stomach. When esophagus does not function properly, dysphagia happens. Patients suffering from brain or nerve disorder, seniors and babies might have this problem.

People with dysphagia might witness the following issues:

  • Difficulty in swallowing solids and liquids.
  • Gaging, choking or coughing usually occurs when trying to swallow.
  • Experience pain when trying to swallow and also heartburn.
  • Swallowed food might come back up either through mouth or nose.
  • A chronic problem might result in weight loss.

Causes:
There are 2 main reasons, why the Esophagus might become dysfunctional.

  1. Due to some medical condition the muscles and nerves that help the esophagus work have stopped working.
  2. The esophagus is blocked by something.

There can be a number of reasons for both the condition. Here are the reasons why the muscles and nerves might not work.

Certain diseases can create problems with your nervous system, which in turn can affect the esophagus. These diseases are polio, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, Parkinson’s disease.

 

  1. A brain stroke, spinal cord injury or brain injury can also affect swallowing.
  2. Polymyositis or Dermatomyositis are immune system problems that can cause swelling or weakness.
  3. The muscles of esophagus suddenly squeeze, which is called esophagus spasm.
  4. Scleroderma causes the esophagus to become thin and weak.

The esophagus might be blocked because of these reasons:

  1. Esophagus might have malignant or non-malignant tumours.
  2. Esophagitis is a medical condition when the esophagus is infected, got some allergy or even if a pill got stuck on it.
  3. People suffering from reflux diseases often experience the acid that backs up into the esophagus. This can cause an ulcer on it resulting in scars. Scars make Esophagus narrower, making it difficult to swallow.
  4. There are small sacs called Diverticula on the esophagus or the throat, often making it difficult to swallow.
  5. Lymph nodes, tumours, bone spurs can also obstruct esophagus and create difficulty in swallowing.
1 person found this helpful

5 Symptoms Of Achalasia!

Dr. Yuvaraja 85% (10 ratings)
MS - General Surgery, Membership of The Royal College of Surgeons (MRCS), Diploma In Laparoscopy, FICS, FACRSI
Gastroenterologist, Salem
5 Symptoms Of Achalasia!

Achalasia is a very rare disease. Normally, your esophagus squeezes food down by making the muscular valve in between the stomach and esophagus relax. Achalasia occurs when this muscular valve is unable to relax and thus the esophagus is unable to squeeze the food down. The most common reason why this happens is because the nerves in your esophagus are damaged. The nerves most commonly get damaged because of abnormalities in the way your immune system responds. Till now, there is no cure to achalasia; however, surgery or minimally invasive therapy can make the symptoms of achalasia more manageable. Here are all the causes and symptoms of achalasia:

Symptoms:

  1. Difficulty swallowing: The difficulty you face when swallowing food is the most common symptom of achalasia. Both liquid as well as solid food will be hard to swallow.
  2. Regurgitation: If the food is regurgitating in the night, then the lungs may have been inhaling some food. This is very serious and you should see the doctor immediately if this occurs.
  3. Chest pain: You may suddenly experience chest pain from a completely unknown cause. 
  4. Weight loss: You may also suffer from sudden weight loss if you have achalasia. This is due to the reduced amount of food you will be consuming.
  5. Heartburn: Heartburn is when you have a very intense burning pain in your chest just behind your breastbone which is most commonly caused by regurgitation in your esophagus. 

Causes:
The exact cause of achalasia is not yet known. However, there are some theories on what causes achalasia. Here they are.

  1. Genes: The most common cause of achalasia is genes. 
  2. Autoimmune disease: An autoimmune disease is when your immune system attacks your body's own cells. Achalasia is a type of autoimmune disease.
  3. Infection: There have also been a lot of claims that infections are the cause of achalasia.

5 Treatment Methods For Dysphagia

Dr. Kunal Das 87% (11 ratings)
DM - Gastroenterology, MD - Internal Medicine, MBBS Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery
Gastroenterologist, Noida
5 Treatment Methods For Dysphagia

Dysphagia is the difficulty in swallowing food or liquid. Most people suffering from dysphagia are unaware of their medical condition and only realize it in later stages. When not diagnosed and treated in time, it may lead to aspiration pneumonia (lung infection occurring due to food particles or saliva entering the lung), weight loss, dehydration and malnutrition. Some of the symptoms include:

  1. Heartburn
  2. Choking
  3. Drooling
  4. Having the feeling of food getting stuck in the chest or throat.
  5. Food or stomach acid coming back up into the throat
  6. Regurgitation
  7. Hoarseness of the throat
  8. Gagging and coughing while swallowing
  9. Experiencing pain while swallowing

There are two types of dysphagia:

Esophageal Dysphagia:
This is also known as low dysphagia and is the condition in which one can sense food getting stuck in the throat or chest area. The problem lies in the esophagus. Generally, the surgical procedure is required to solve the problem. Some of the causes of low dysphagia include-

  1. Achalasia- lower muscles in the esophagus do not allow food to enter the stomach.
  2. Diffuse spasm- Uncontrolled contractions of the lower esophagus after swallowing food.
  3. Esophageal stricture- Narrowing of the passage of esophagus making it difficult for food to pass. It often leads to GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease).
  4. Esophageal Ring- A narrowing of the lower portion of the esophagus
  5. Scleroderma- Autoimmune disease where it leads to hardening and stiffening of body tissues.

Oropharyngeal Dysphagia:
This is also known as high dysphagia and is the condition where the throat muscles become weak making it difficult to swallow food. Some of the causes for high dysphagia include- stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Zenker’s Diverticulum (a condition in which food particles get accumulated inside a small pouch in your throat) and cancer.


Treatments:
Depending on the type of dysphagia, you will be advised any one of the treatment courses available. It can range from swallowing therapy, dietary changes, feeding tubes and medications to even surgery. The treatment is carried out by a multidisciplinary team. A multidisciplinary team includes- a speech-language pathologist, primary physician, gastroenterologist, dietitian, therapist, radiologist and pharmacist. The treatments for dysphagia include:

  1. Swallowing Therapy- If you are suffering from high dysphagia, you will be referred to speech and language therapists. You will be taught a number of exercises to make the process of swallowing easier and simple.
  2. Dietary Changes- In this method, you will be referred to a dietician or nutritionist. You will be advised a well-balanced and healthy diet that may include more liquid and semi-liquid food.
  3. Feeding Tube- When swallowing becomes extremely difficult and the patient is at risk of suffering from malnutrition and dehydration, the patient is usually fed through a nasogastric tube which passes through the nose and into the stomach. PEG (percutaneous endoscopic gastronomy) tube which is directly implanted in your stomach.
  4. Dilation- People suffering from low dysphagia have to undergo surgery. One of the methods is dilation. Through endoscopy, images of inside the throat is taken and a small balloon is inserted.
  5. Botulinum Toxin (Botox) - One of the causes for low dysphagia is achalasia. In such cases, botulinum toxin is used to relax and weaken the stiff and hardened muscles of the esophagus.

These were some of the treatment options for dysphagia that prove it is treatable and can be cured easily. Generally, dysphagia occurs in older people and babies. Whatever may be the cause, the main purpose of the treatment of dysphagia is to make the patient go back to oral feeding.

3 people found this helpful

What Is Dysphagia?

Dr. Preeti Mishra 92% (32 ratings)
BASLP (Bachelor of Audiology Speech Language Pathology)
Speech Therapist, Kolkata

Difficulty in swallowing your food or your own saliva is called dysphagia. It takes more time and effort to move food from mouth to stomach.

Symptoms:-

  • Pain while swallowing
  • Unable to swallow
  • Drooling
  • Loss of weight
  • Cough or gagging while swallowing

Difficulty In Swallowing Your Food - Can You Be Suffering From Achalasia?

Dr. Himanshu Yadav 89% (35 ratings)
MBBS, M.S. (Gold Medalist), MCh - Surgical Gastroenterology/G.I. Surgery
Gastroenterologist, Agra
Difficulty In Swallowing Your Food - Can You Be Suffering From Achalasia?

The tube that carries food to your stomach from your throat is called the oesophagus. When the muscular valve (lower oesophagus sphincter) in the oesophagus fails to relax and carry the food to the stomach, the condition is termed as achalasia.

Achalasia has a variety of causes, and can be difficult for your doctor to diagnose the exact cause. Some common causes of achalasia include:
1. Hereditary predispositions
2. Autoimmune disorders (The immune system erroneously destroys healthy cells in the body)
3. Nerve degeneration in the oesophagus
There other medical conditions that often lead to symptoms identical to achalasia, such as oesophageal cancer and Chagas’ disease (an infectious disease caused by a parasite).

Other symptoms of achalasia include:

The most prominent symptom of achalasia is dysphagia, which is characterised by swallowing difficulties or sensations of food stuck in the oesophagus. Dysphagia often triggers coughing and shortness of breath or choking on food.
1. Discomfort or pain in the chest
2. Weight loss
3. Heartburn
4. Intense discomfort or pain after eating

Some of the treatments include:

Most of the methods to treat achalasia focus on the lower oesophageal sphincter (LES). The treatments used can either permanently alter the sphincter’s function, or reduce symptoms.
1. Oral medications such as calcium channel blockers or nitrates are prescribed, which can relax the LES to let food pass through with more ease. Your doctor may also treat the LES with Botox.
2. For a more permanent treatment, the sphincter can be dilated or altered. In dilation, a balloon is inserted into the oesophagus and it is inflated. This will stretch out your oesophagus to improve function.
3. To alter the oesophagus, oesophagomyotomy is performed. It is a kind of surgery where minimal incisions are made to gain access to the LES, and then it is carefully altered to improve flow of food to the stomach.

Unlike dilation, which can cause complications such as tears in the oesophagus, oesophagomyotomy has a greater success rate. However, certain complications may still arise, such as:
1. Acid reflux
2. Respiratory conditions that are caused by food entering your windpipe

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

3390 people found this helpful

Difficulty in Swallowing - Can It Be Due To Esophagus Blocking?

Dr. Parth Amin 85% (12 ratings)
DNB (ENT), Diploma in Otorhinolaryngology (DLO), MBBS, SR (ENT)
ENT Specialist, Ahmedabad
Difficulty in Swallowing - Can It Be Due To Esophagus Blocking?

Swallowing food comes naturally to human beings. But when there is a problem, it is usually called Dysphagia. Esophagus, a muscular tube-like organ located at the back of our throat, usually helps in swallowing food and transferring them to our stomach. When esophagus does not function properly, dysphagia happens. Patients suffering from brain or nerve disorder, seniors and babies might have this problem.

People with dysphagia might witness the following issues:

  • Difficulty in swallowing solids and liquids.
  • Gaging, choking or coughing usually occurs when trying to swallow.
  • Experience pain when trying to swallow and also heartburn.
  • Swallowed food might come back up either through mouth or nose.
  • A chronic problem might result in weight loss.

Causes:
There are 2 main reasons, why the Esophagus might become dysfunctional.

  1. Due to some medical condition the muscles and nerves that help the esophagus work have stopped working.
  2. The esophagus is blocked by something.

There can be a number of reasons for both the condition. Here are the reasons why the muscles and nerves might not work.
Certain diseases can create problems with your nervous system, which in turn can affect the esophagus. These diseases are polio, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, Parkinson’s disease.

  1. A brain stroke, spinal cord injury or brain injury can also affect swallowing.
  2. Polymyositis or Dermatomyositis are immune system problems that can cause swelling or weakness.
  3. The muscles of esophagus suddenly squeeze, which is called esophagus spasm.
  4. Scleroderma causes the esophagus to become thin and weak.

The esophagus might be blocked because of these reasons:

  1. Esophagus might have malignant or non-malignant tumours.
  2. Esophagitis is a medical condition when the esophagus is infected, got some allergy or even if a pill got stuck on it.
  3. People suffering from reflux diseases often experience the acid that backs up into the esophagus. This can cause an ulcer on it resulting in scars. Scars make Esophagus narrower, making it difficult to swallow.
  4. There are small sacs called Diverticula on the esophagus or the throat, often making it difficult to swallow.
  5. Lymph nodes, tumours, bone spurs can also obstruct esophagus and create difficulty in swallowing.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

4418 people found this helpful

Dr. Stephen Hawking: The Man Who Lived By The Thought, "Intelligence Is The Ability To Adapt To Change"

Dr. Aparna Gupta 86% (33 ratings)
DNB (Neurology), MD/MBBS - General Medicine
Neurologist, Delhi
Dr. Stephen Hawking: The Man Who Lived By The Thought, "Intelligence Is The Ability To Adapt To Change"

“I'm not afraid of death, but I'm in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first”, are the famous words of a man who, against all odds pursued his passion till the end. 14 March 2018 will always be considered as one of the darkest days as the world mourns the loss of the great Dr. Stephen Hawking, who enlightened people with his theories related to, ‘exploration of general relativity and properties of the black hole’.

At the age of 21 he was diagnosed with a rare neurological disease known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)  or Lou Gehrig’s disease and despite the challenges he faced, he lived his life with fun & vigor.

So, what is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis?

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a motor neuron disease, which is responsible for controlling the voluntary muscle movement in the body. It is one of the rare neurological diseases and has no cure at present. It is degenerative disease i.e. the condition affected by it will get worse over a period of time and weakens the working of these neurons.

What is the cause of it?

In 90% to 95% of cases, the definitive cause of it is still not known. And, for the remaining cases, there is a possibility that this disease can occur due an inherited genetic history of certain specific genes from their parents.

How the disease affected Stephen?

The symptoms of this disease vary from person to person. Also, the disease has a tendency to spread to unaffected regions of the body with the affected regions turning worse. Due to the progressive nature of the disease, the patient eventually will not able to walk, use their hands & arms, loses his ability to speak, to swallow food or their own saliva, and lastly, it affects the ability to cough & breathe resulting in the death of the patient.

In most of the cases, people who are diagnosed with ALS live up to 2-5 years. However, Hawking was a rare case who survived for over 50 years, since he was diagnosed when he was 21. And, in spite of his disease, he came up with highly elaborate researches such as that of the black hole theory.

How did he survive for so long?

When a patient suffers from ALS it is possible he or she can die due to respiratory failure, or deterioration of swallowing muscles which leads to dehydration and malnutrition. The case of Hawking is still a mystery for both doctors and scientists alike. As, in all ALS cases, the symptoms of cognitive dysfunction or memory dysfunction are common but were proven wrong in Hawking’s case. As per Hawking’s biography ‘A Brief History of Time’, his grasping, and learning ability improved only after his disease.

Due to the progression of his disease, he was paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair and was not able to perform day to day activities such as bathing, eating, and even talking. He was only able to move a few fingers. In order to overcome his difficulties, he started using a speech synthesizer that gave him a computerized voice. Also, after reading his case many doctors claimed that the disease progressed slower than it usually does in his case.


Common signs of this disease

Although the above symptoms can indicate other health ailments in case of continuous occurrence one should consult a doctor immediately. In case of any concern, do consult an expert and get answers. 

3637 people found this helpful

Difficulty Swallowing (Dysphagia) - Know The Causes Behind It!!

Dr. J. K.Gupta 92% (81 ratings)
MS ENT, MBBS
ENT Specialist, Noida
Difficulty Swallowing (Dysphagia) - Know The Causes Behind It!!

Swallowing food comes naturally to human beings. But when there is a problem, it is usually called Dysphagia. Esophagus, a muscular tube-like organ located at the back of our throat, usually helps in swallowing food and transferring them to our stomach. When esophagus does not function properly, dysphagia happens. Patients suffering from brain or nerve disorder, seniors and babies might have this problem.

People with dysphagia might witness the following issues:

  • Difficulty in swallowing solids and liquids.
  • Gaging, choking or coughing usually occurs when trying to swallow.
  • Experience pain when trying to swallow and also heartburn.
  • Swallowed food might come back up either through mouth or nose.
  • A chronic problem might result in weight loss.

Causes:
There are 2 main reasons, why the Esophagus might become dysfunctional.

  1. Due to some medical condition the muscles and nerves that help the esophagus work have stopped working.
  2. The esophagus is blocked by something.

There can be a number of reasons for both the condition. Here are the reasons why the muscles and nerves might not work.
Certain diseases can create problems with your nervous system, which in turn can affect the esophagus. These diseases are polio, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, Parkinson’s disease.

  1. A brain stroke, spinal cord injury or brain injury can also affect swallowing.
  2. Polymyositis or Dermatomyositis are immune system problems that can cause swelling or weakness.
  3. The muscles of esophagus suddenly squeeze, which is called esophagus spasm.
  4. Scleroderma causes the esophagus to become thin and weak.

The esophagus might be blocked because of these reasons:

  1. Esophagus might have malignant or non-malignant tumours.
  2. Esophagitis is a medical condition when the esophagus is infected, got some allergy or even if a pill got stuck on it.
  3. People suffering from reflux diseases often experience the acid that backs up into the esophagus. This can cause an ulcer on it resulting in scars. Scars make Esophagus narrower, making it difficult to swallow.
  4. There are small sacs called Diverticula on the esophagus or the throat, often making it difficult to swallow.
  5. Lymph nodes, tumours, bone spurs can also obstruct esophagus and create difficulty in swallowing.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

2606 people found this helpful

Achalasia - Signs You Are Suffering From It!

Dr. Nitin Manglik 86% (57 ratings)
MBBS, MD - General Medicine, DM - Gastroenterology
Gastroenterologist, Ghaziabad
Achalasia - Signs You Are Suffering From It!

Achalasia is a very rare disease. Normally, your esophagus squeezes food down by making the muscular valve in between the stomach and esophagus relax. Achalasia occurs when this muscular valve is unable to relax and thus the esophagus is unable to squeeze the food down. The most common reason why this happens is because the nerves in your esophagus are damaged. The nerves most commonly get damaged because of abnormalities in the way your immune system responds. Till now, there is no cure to achalasia; however surgery or minimally invasive therapy can make the symptoms of achalasia more manageable. Here are all the causes and symptoms of achalasia:

Symptoms

  1. Difficulty swallowingThe difficulty you face when swallowing food is the most common symptom of achalasia. Both liquid as well as solid food will be hard to swallow.
  2. Regurgitation: If the food is regurgitating in the night, then the lungs may have been inhaling some food. This is very serious and you should see the doctor immediately if this occurs.
  3. Chest painYou may suddenly experience chest pain from a completely unknown cause. 
  4. Weight lossYou may also suffer from sudden weight loss if you have achalasia. This is due to the reduced amount of food you will be consuming.
  5. Heartburn: Heartburn is when you have a very intense burning pain in your chest just behind your breastbone which is most commonly caused by regurgitation in your esophagus. 

Causes
The exact cause of achalasia is not yet known. However, there are some theories on what causes achalasia. Here they are.

  1. Genes: The most common cause of achalasia is genes. 
  2. Autoimmune disease: An autoimmune disease is when your immune system attacks your body's own cells. Achalasia is a type of autoimmune disease.
  3. InfectionThere have also been a lot of claims that infections are the cause of achalasia.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

1887 people found this helpful

Achalasia - Symptoms + Treatment

Dr. Parthasarathy G 91% (30 ratings)
MBBS, MS - General Surgery, M.Ch - Surgical Gastroenterology/G.I. Surgery, Fellowship in Hepatobiliary Surgery & Liver Transplantation, International Visiting Scholar
Surgical Gastroenterologist, Hyderabad
Achalasia - Symptoms + Treatment

Achalasia is a serious disorder of the esophagus in which your nerves and muscles fail to work properly. This disorder causes problems in your body such as chest pain, difficulty to swallow food and excessive coughing.

You will also face problems in breathing in case the food enters in to the lungs. There is a valve in your lower esophageal splinter, which closes the esophagus from your stomach. If you have problems like achalasia then perhaps your lower esophageal splinter fails to open while swallowing food it can lead to accumulation of food in esophagus. In this condition the nerves in your body gets damaged and hence cause health complications.

You are at risk of achalasia when you are middle aged, but it can also occur during childhood. Auto immune disorder often places you at risk for achalasia.

Symptoms of achalasia:
The major symptom of achalasia is dysphagia in which you face problems while swallowing food. You may feel that the food is struck in your esophagus which causes choking and problems when you breathe. There may be other symptoms of achalasia which includes:
1. Loss of weight
2. Heart burn
3. Discomfort or pain while you eat food
4. Chest pain
5. Risk of esophagus cancer

Treatment for achalasia:
Esophageal manometry is a technique your doctor may use, if he suspects achalasia when the symptoms include difficulty while you eat and swallow foods. A tube measures the muscular activity in your stomach and reports about the functioning of your esophagus. Another way to diagnose is through X- ray of the esophagus or endoscopy.

The treatment for achalasia generally starts with oral medications. Sphincter nitrates and calcium blockers often help to relax the muscles. Botox can also help to relax your sphincter and help you swallow food.
Esophagomyotomy also helps to treat achalasia in which your doctor can use an incision to access the sphincter and also alter it to enable better flow into the stomach. It’s a generally successful procedure, but sometimes can cause Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) which causes heart burn and would require intensive care. Sometimes surgery can also help to give relief but it can also cause acid reflux, respiratory problems, tearing of esophagus along with other serious complications.

Laparoscopic surgery is a simple and effective way of treating this problem .The tight lower esophageal sphincter is released to make way for easy passage of food.The patient recovers in one day and is discharged home following this operation. If you wish to discuss any specific problem, you can consult a gastroenterologist.

2978 people found this helpful
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