While you might not be familiar with the term dysphagia, it actually describes having difficulty swallowing.
It’s a common problem that many older adults, in particular, deal with. Data tells us that anywhere between 10-22% of adults over 50 have trouble swallowing. That number increases to 40% of adults over the age of 60.
Let’s take a closer look at both the symptoms and causes of dysphagia, as well as what can be done to treat the condition.
Common Symptoms of Dysphagia
While the occasional problem swallowing, especially if you’re eating too quickly or taking too big of bites, is probably not a sign of an underlying condition, frequent swallowing issues might be. These issues can manifest in several ways, including:
- Feeling like food is stuck in your throat or chest
- Frequent heartburn
- Coughing or gagging when you eat
- Weight loss
What Causes Difficulty Swallowing?
Multiple medical conditions can interfere with your ability to swallow correctly. Some are relatively benign, while others are more serious health concerns. Some causes of dysphagia include:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Diffuse spasm
- Esophageal stricture
- Esophageal tumor
- Neurological disorders or damage
- Zenker’s diverticulum
Complications from Dysphagia
Having difficulty swallowing can make it difficult to enjoy certain foods or make you feel self-conscious when you are out to eat in Lake Jackson somewhere, like Table 24. Additionally, depending on the severity of dysphagia, you may develop complications such as:
- Weight loss
- Aspiration pneumonia
Note that if you ever feel as though food is stuck in your throat or making it difficult to breathe, you should seek emergency medical treatment.
Treatments for Swallowing Problems
If you frequently have trouble swallowing when you eat or drink or experience related symptoms, you should make an appointment with your medical provider. They can assess your symptoms, perform a physical examination and decide what additional testing may be needed.
Your treatment options will largely depend on the underlying cause of your dysphagia. Some options include:
- Medications to control acid reflux
- Muscle relaxants
- Learning swallowing exercises and techniques to coordinate certain muscles and stimulate nerves
- Esophageal dilation
If you have additional questions or would like to schedule an appointment to be evaluated by one of our experts, contact Lake Jackson ENT today.