Things that raise the risk of esophageal dysphagia are:
- Any of the problems above
- Injury or illness of nervous system such as:
- Parkinson disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Huntington disease
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Cancer treatment—current or past
- Past surgery
- Premature birth
- Certain medicine
The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. The doctor will run tests to find the cause of swallowing problems. Tests may include:
- A test to look for problems while swallowing
- An upper GI endoscopy—a scope to view the throat from back of mouth to the stomach
- A barium swallow—x-ray that uses a special dye to view the throat
- Tests on the muscles of the food pipe
Treatment depends on the cause. Options may be
- Esophageal dilation —to make the food pipe wider
- Surgery—to treat GERD or remove something that is blocking the food pipe
Diet changes such as:
- Not eating foods that cause problems
- Eating softer or pureed foods
- Using a feeding tube if needed
- Speech therapy—to learn how to swallow without choking
- Medicines—to treat specific causes, relax muscles, or reduce acid
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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a (Difficulty Swallowing [Esophagus])
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association https://www.asha.org
Dysphagia Research Society https://dysphagiaresearch.site-ym.com
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada https://www.heartandstroke.ca
Ontario Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologist https://www.osla.on.ca
Chilukuri P, Odufalu F, et al. Dysphagia. Mo Med. 2018;115(3):206-210.
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Swallowing disorders in adults. American-Speech-Language-Hearing Association website. Available at: https://www.asha.org/public/speech/swallowing/Swallowing-Disorders-in-Adults. Accessed July 30, 2021.