Is Dysphagia Dangerous?

Close up of sick man suffering from throat problems

Difficulty swallowing can happen from time to time. It can become a problem when it interferes with your daily life. Having trouble swallowing can be related to a condition affecting 700,000 people called dysphagia. If you’ve been having trouble swallowing, here are some tips to help you know what to look out for and when it’s time to get help.

Causes of Dysphagia

Dysphagia is a disorder commonly seen in the elderly but can happen at any age. Neurological conditions that affect how the brain interacts with the muscles in your tongue and throat can create challenges in swallowing.

Conditions that create dysphagia include:

  • A stroke
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Brain Tumors

How is Dysphagia Diagnosed?

A medical professional can help determine if your symptoms are consistent with dysphagia. Testing, physical examination, and talking through your medical history can help find the cause of your trouble swallowing.

Also, your doctor may order an x-ray or perform an endoscopy to get a thorough look at your esophagus. These tactics can also examine your throat as you swallow and check for blockages.

Symptoms of Dysphagia

If left untreated, dysphagia can have dangerous consequences. For instance, the inability to swallow can cause malnutrition and dehydration because your body doesn’t get the essential nutrients it needs. 

Your doctor can help you devise a plan of action to combat dysphagia symptoms which include:

  • Drooling
  • Regurgitation 
  • Heartburn
  • Weight loss
  • Hoarseness
  • A feeling of food stuck in the sternum
  • Pain while swallowing

Treating Dysphagia

Your treatment plan for dysphagia depends on your symptoms and their severity. If your dysphagia comes from acid reflux, drugs that lower stomach acid may become a part of your regimen.

Also, avoiding foods that increase your risk of choking is crucial, such as crackers, cereals, tough meats, and popcorn. Soft-cooked vegetables, fruit yogurt, and cottage cheese can be good places to start.

Your doctor can help you create the best diet for your needs.

In some cases, surgery may be necessary for dysphagia. Severe cases may need a dilation procedure to open the esophagus. But your needs depend on the progression of your symptoms and an exam.

If you have questions about dysphasia and want to know more about your treatment options, please call us at New York ENT. To schedule a consultation, call us at 212-873-6036.

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