Dysphagia is an issue caused when moving food or drink from your mouth to your stomach, requiring more time and effort. Dysphagia can cause discomfort. Swallowing isn’t always feasible. Sometimes having trouble swallowing, such as when you eat too quickly or don’t chew your food thoroughly, is typically nothing to worry about. However, chronic dysphagia can be a serious medical problem that has to be treated.
Stroke survivors frequently experience dysphagia, which can impair the oral and/or pharyngeal phases of swallowing. While attempting to swallow saliva, beverages, or food, the patient may cough or choke. A speech-language pathologist will frequently evaluate a patient’s capacity for swallowing in order to assess the risk of aspiration, which is when food or liquid enters the lungs and may result in pneumonia or a lung infection.
Silent aspiration is a risk for stroke survivors. When food and fluids reach the lungs without coughing or choking, it is known as silent aspiration. There are no particularly focused signs of a swallowing disorder in these patients.
Types of dysphasia
Many diseases, illnesses, and circumstances can make it difficult to swallow. Three categories of swallowing issues are distinguished by doctors:
Dysphagia of the oral cavity: The mouth is the issue. Typical causes include stroke-related tongue paralysis, trouble chewing, and neuromuscular issues.
Dysphagia of the oropharynx: The throat is the issue. The cause of this could be neurological or muscle tissue.
Esophageal dysphagia: This is an esophageal condition. This may be brought on by an obstruction or compression of the esophagus, a muscle condition, or esophageal pouches.
The following are some potential causes of difficulty swallowing:
Brain and nervous system disorders: Several illnesses have an impact on both systems (the network of nerves that controls muscles and organs). Swallowing problems can result from Parkinson’s illness, multiple sclerosis, ALS, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Blockages and esophageal narrowing: Esophageal cancer, a tumour, or a large thyroid gland can all cause the oesophagus to narrow and become blocked (make it narrower). Swallowing may be difficult if the oesophagus is constricted. Some people get Schatzki rings or webs (pieces of tissue inside the esophagus). This tissue causes the tube to become narrow, making it challenging to swallow food chunks. Swallowing problems can also be caused by esophageal opening disorders such cricopharyngeal hypertrophy. If something is lodged in your throat, swallowing may be challenging or impossible.
scars brought on by acid reflux: GERD might cause your oesophagus to develop scar tissue (acid reflux disease). Barrett’s oesophagus can result from GERD (irritation in the oesophagus lining).
Infection: A sore throat (tonsillitis) causes discomfort and inflammation. Swallowing may become painful. This might also affect one’s appetite due to discomfort.
Muscle disorders: Myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune ailment, and muscular dystrophy both damage the muscles throughout the body. Your ability to swallow may be impacted by esophageal disorders such as achalasia, systemic sclerosis (scleroderma), cricopharyngeal spasms, and esophageal spasms.
The nature and severity of the issue will determine the best course of treatment for trouble swallowing. Your treatment can consist of:
Antibiotics: To treat bacterial tonsillitis, your doctor may advise taking antibiotics (strep throat).
Medication and lifestyle modifications: Acid reflux medication is part of the treatment for GERD. Additionally, your doctor might advise that you alter your eating routine and nutrition.
Other medical treatment: Your doctor can suggest remedies if a neurological disease makes it difficult for you to swallow. Your options may include esophageal enlargement surgery or injections of the botulinum toxin to treat muscle spasms.
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.