Swallowing Disorders Specialist

Beach Cities ENTS

Ear, Nose & Throat Specialists located in Torrance, CA

At least one in 25 American adults struggle with a swallowing disorder, 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 in diagnosing and treating swallowing disorders. To get the help you need, call the South Bay office or book an appointment online today.

Swallowing Disorders Q & A

What causes a swallowing disorder?

Swallowing disorders include problems such as difficulty swallowing, known as dysphagia, pain when swallowing, coughing or choking when swallowing, not being able to swallow certain consistencies of food or liquid, or food getting stuck and not going down. You may have trouble swallowing liquid, food, pills, or all three. 

If you have a swallowing problem, you may be 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 reflexes and coordination, and diminished saliva can all affect your ability to swallow.

A number of health conditions also cause swallowing disorders, including:

  • Dry mouth
  • Weakened throat muscles
  • Narrowed esophagus
  • Growths or tumors in the mouth, throat, or esophagus
  • Vocal cord paralysis
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Neurological disorders or damage, including stroke
  • Zenker’s diverticulum
  • Esophageal coordination or motility issues

What symptoms develop due to swallowing disorders?

In addition to difficulty swallowing, you may also experience symptoms such as:

  • Pain when swallowing
  • Drooling
  • Hoarseness
  • Regurgitation
  • 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. 

As part of your assessment, your doctor will usually perform a simple examination called laryngoscopy to look in your throat, which will provide important information to help get to the bottom of your swallowing disorder. Your doctor may also recommend various types of special swallowing tests, which can be done using special cameras or using x-rays. Together, these tests can help determine the cause of your swallowing disorder. 

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, you may be referred to a swallowing therapist, who can help you do swallowing exercises to help rebuild your swallowing strength. 

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, Zenker’s diverticulum, and any other type of physical blockages may require surgery.

If you have a swallowing disorder, don’t wait. Get the help you need by calling Beach Cities ENTS or scheduling an appointment online.

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