Swallowing Condition Management (Dysphagia)
If you are being plagued by persistent dysphagia and the cause isn’t apparent, a doctor will discuss the history of the problem and conduct an examination. Procedures involving mirrors and possibly tests with food are done to provide visualization of the functions of the back of the tongue, throat, and larynx. These procedures are called Fiber Optic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing, or Flexible Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing with Sensory Testing. If necessary, an examination of the esophagus might be carried out, as well.
If you are having difficulty swallowing, you should seek treatment so it does not hinder your ability to do basic functions as important as eating and drinking; otherwise, you may get dehydrated and or become malnourished. Many of these disorders can be treated with medication, such as drugs that slow stomach acid production, muscle relaxants, and antacids. Gastroesophageal reflux can often be treated by changing eating and living habits in the following ways:
- A bland diet with smaller, more frequent meals
- Eliminate tobacco, alcohol and caffeine from your diet
- Reduce weight and stress
- Avoid eating within 3 hours of bedtime
- Elevate the head of the bed at night
Antacids between meals and before bed can provide relief if these do not help. Some swallowing disorders can be helped by direct swallowing therapy where a speech pathologist will provide special exercises. One of our dietician or nutritional experts might also aid in the process by determining a proper amount of food or liquid and whether supplements are necessary.
Surgery is used to treat certain problems, such as if a the throat or esophagus is too narrow, in which case the area can be stretched or dilated. This procedure is called a myotomy. Many diseases can contribute to swallowing disorders, as well. If you have a persistent problem swallowing, see come see our experts to help determine what is going on.