Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) is common among all age groups, but especially the elderly. It may be caused by many factors, most of which are non-threatening and temporary. Rarely, difficulties in swallowing are signs of a more serious issue, such as a tumor or neurological disorder. If the difficulty in swallowing does not clear up by itself within a short period of time, you should see a doctor.
In our office, we do a fiberoptic laryngoscopy procedure in order to see inside your throat for any potential swallowing disorders. This gives an accurate diagnosis, which is crucial to developing a proper and effective treatment plan. The procedure is non-invasive, lasts only a few minutes, and there is no discomfort.
Symptoms of swallowing disorders may include:
- A feeling that food or liquid is sticking in the throat during or after a meal, or while swallowing saliva
- Discomfort in the throat or chest, including acid reflux
- A sensation of a foreign body or lump in the throat
- Weight loss and inadequate nutrition due to prolonged or significant problems swallowing
- Coughing or choking caused by food, liquid, or saliva not easily passed during swallowing, and small amounts of food, liquid, or saliva being sucked into the lungs
Once the cause is determined, our patients may be treated with medication, swallowing therapy, or surgery. Most of these disorders can be treated with medication. Acid reflux is best treated by changing eating and living habits, such as eating a more bland diet, smaller and more frequent meals, elimination of alcohol or caffeine, reducing weight and stress, avoiding food within three hours of bedtime, or elevating your head while sleeping.