Dysphagia is the medical term for when a person experiences difficulty swallowing. This condition affects eating, drinking and even talking and it can be extremely uncomfortable. It affects both adults and children. When it comes to treating dysphagia, an ENT specialist can help diagnose and care for individuals with dysphagia.
What Is Dysphagia?
To understand how dysphagia prevents swallowing, it’s important to understand the mechanism of swallowing. It happens in four stages:
- Oral preparation stage. If swallowing food, the food is chewed and moistened by saliva.
- Oral stage. The food is pushed to the back of the throat by the tongue. Stages 1 and 2 are voluntarily, as you have control over your tongue and chewing movements.
- Pharyngeal stage. The food enters the top of the throat (pharynx) and a flap of tissue known as the epiglottis covers the windpipe so food cannot enter the lungs. After the food or liquid is passed through the throat, it enters the esophagus and the epiglottis lifts to allow for normal breathing.
- Esophageal stage. Muscles in the esophagus contract and release (a process called peristalsis) to push food through the esophagus toward the stomach. Liquids fall through the esophagus by gravity.
When any one of these phases is interrupted and repeatedly cannot occur properly, it’s likely because of dysphagia.
What Causes Dysphagia?
Dysphagia can occur for many reasons, as it’s a common condition. Some common reasons we see in both adults and children are:
- Lump or mass in the throat
- Large or swollen tonsils
- Brain injury or stroke
- Large tongue
- Oral sensitive
- Cleft palate
In some cases, an individual may not be able to describe the feeling of dysphagia but they display common symptoms, such as gagging during feeding, drooling, eating very slowly, or trying to swallow a single bite many times. These are all signs that this individual may need to seek treatment for dysphagia.
Dysphagia Symptoms? Contact ENTFPSS.
If you or a loved one are experiencing any of the above symptoms, we can help. Our trained physicians can quickly diagnose you and get you the care and treatment you need. We pride ourselves on finding the right solution for each individual patient, as we know that every single one of our patients is unique.