Difficulty to swallow? How to identify, treat and avoid dysphagia, a little-known problem with an easy solution

You can have circumstantial swallowing problems for many reasons. It can be due to a sore throat or for reasons that go beyond a simple cold. Among the latter is dysphagia, a condition in itself that can really make your life miserable. Because suffering that food jam in the neck is something very undesirable. Over time, dysphagia can also cause symptoms like weight loss.

What Causes Difficulty Swallowing?

In the body, there are 50 pairs of muscles and nerves that are activated to help you swallow. In other words, there are many reasons why something can go wrong in the act of swallowing food. Some of the most normal causes are acid reflux, heartburn, epiglottitis, esophagitis or herpes, among others.

Normally, people with dysphagia have certain problems swallowing certain foods or liquids, but others cannot get food into their body in any way. Some signs of dysphagia include coughing or choking when eating or drinking, lifting food up to the nose, a feeling of blockage in the throat or chest, excessive production of saliva, various discomfort when chewing … Over time, dysphagia can also lead to weight loss and repeated respiratory infections.

Causes of dysphagia

Dysphagia can generally appear as a consequence of another health condition such as a condition that affects the nervous system (stroke, head injury, sclerosis …), gastroesophageal reflux disease or, in the case of children, as a result of a developmental or learning disability.

If left untreated, dysphagia can sometimes lead to more problems, and one of the most common is systemically coughing or choking – food going down the wrong path and blocking the airway more often than is desirable. And that is dangerous. It can lead to chest infections, such as aspiration pneumonia, which requires urgent medical treatment.

When to seek medical advice

You should see your GP if you have difficulty swallowing or any other sign of dysphagia so that you can receive treatment to help with your symptoms. It is essential to detect dysphagia early to rule out other more serious conditions, such as cancer of the esophagus, with which it presents some common symptoms.

Treatment generally depends on the cause and type of dysphagia. Most cases improve quickly with careful treatment, and for example, changing the consistency of foods and liquids to make them safer to swallow, often works. But if symptoms do not improve, it may even require surgery to widen the esophagus, stretching it or inserting a plastic or metal tube (stent).

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