One in 25 American adults struggle with swallowing disorders, a potentially serious problem that can lead to malnutrition, dehydration, and aspiration pneumonia due to food getting into your lungs. The exceptional board-certified doctors at Beach Cities ENTS in Torrance, California, have extensive experience performing the tests needed to get to the underlying cause and provide a customized treatment for your swallowing disorder. To get the help you need, call the South Bay office or book an appointment online today.
What causes a swallowing disorder?
Swallowing disorders include problems such as difficulty swallowing, or dysphagia, pain when swallowing, or not being able to swallow. You may have trouble swallowing liquid, food, or both.
If you have a swallowing problem, you’re at risk of nutritional deficiencies, weight loss, dehydration, aspiration pneumonia, and choking.
You’re more likely to develop swallowing problems as you get older. Age-related changes such as loss of muscle mass and strength, reduced range of motion, and diminished saliva can all affect your ability to swallow.
A number of health conditions also cause swallowing disorders, including:
- Dry mouth
- Weak throat muscles
- Weak esophageal muscles
- Narrowed esophagus
- Esophageal tumor
- Vocal cord paralysis
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Neurological disorders or damage
- Mouth and throat cancers
- Zenker’s diverticulum
- Esophageal dysphagia
Esophageal dysphagia occurs when food gets stuck at the base of your throat or in your chest. Oropharyngeal dysphagia develops when weak throat muscles make it hard to move food into your throat and esophagus.
What symptoms develop due to swallowing disorders?
In addition to difficulty swallowing, you may also experience symptoms such as:
- Pain when swallowing
- Frequent heartburn
- Recurring lung infections
- Coughing or gagging when swallowing
You may also lose weight even though you’re not trying to diet.
How are swallowing disorders treated?
Your doctor at Beach Cities ENTS may perform one or more diagnostic tests to accurately diagnose the cause of your swallowing disorder.
You may need an endoscopic exam so your doctor can see down your throat and take biopsies to test for inflammation, tumors, or other problems. Other types of diagnostic tests examine your throat while you swallow or test muscle contraction and strength.
Once you have a diagnosis, your Beach Cities ENTS doctor develops an individualized treatment plan to meet your unique needs.
If age-related changes are the primary factor contributing to your swallowing disorder, the team at Beach Cities ENTS offers lifestyle tips to help you overcome the problem.
Non-surgical treatment options include medications, therapy to learn swallowing techniques, and exercises to coordinate the muscles used during swallowing. Problems such as a narrowed esophagus and blockages often require surgery.
Don’t struggle with a swallowing disorder. Get the help you need by calling Beach Cities ENTS or scheduling an appointment online.