Treatment for dysphagia depends on the type or cause of the swallowing disorder.
Oropharyngeal and esophageal dysphagia are two types of condition with different causes and treatment.
Oropharyngeal dysphagia is a problem with swallowing that involves the mouth and the pharynx. The pharynx is the part of the throat behind the mouth.
Oropharyngeal dysphagia may be caused by stroke , Parkinson disease, multiple sclerosis or Huntington disease, brain or spinal cord injury, tumors in the mouth or throat, Infection such as sore throat , tonsillitis, strep throat , or acute epiglottitis, or a narrowing or blockage.
Whoever has this condition, may have difficulty moving food or liquid from the mouth, to the back of the throat and liquid may be harder to swallow than food. There is a feeling
that food is stuck in the throat and there will be regurgitation, drooling, coughing, choking. The patient will have problems getting enough fluids for nutrition.
The doctor may refer the patient to a speech or swallowing therapist for treatment who will teach how to do exercises that may help coordinate the swallowing muscles or restimulate the nerves that trigger the swallowing reflex.
They will also teach swallowing techniques. The patient will learn ways to properly place food in his mouth and to position his body and head in a way that can help him swallow.
If his dysphagia is caused by neurological problems such as Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease, he will be taught exercises and new swallowing techniques to help compensate for the dysphagia.
When you have esophageal dysphagia, it’s hard to get food down the tube that goes from the mouth to the stomach.
Esophageal dysphagia can be caused by the following diseases of the throat – Achalasia, a condition where food or drink doesn’t move toward the stomach as it should;
Nerve damage that hinders the muscles in the throat; esophageal cancer; or esophagitis or GERD.
Esophageal dysphagia may be treated by esophageal dilation.
The doctor may use an endoscope with a special balloon attached to gently stretch and expand the width of the esophagus or pass a flexible tube or tubes to stretch the esophagus for dilation. This is what is done for cases of achalasia, a tight esophageal sphincter or an esophageal stricture.
Surgery may be needed if it involves esophageal tumor, or pharyngoesophageal diverticulum. A surgery is needed to clear the esophageal path.
If the difficulty in swallowing is caused by GERD, oral prescription medications for an extended period may be prescribed to reduce stomach acid.
For those who have eosinophilic esophagitis, corticosteroids can be taken as well as muscle relaxants for esophageal spasm.
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