Factors that increase the risk of esophageal dysphagia include:
- Any of the problems listed above
- Injury or illness of nervous system such as:
- Parkinson disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Huntington disease
- Older age
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Cancer treatment—current or previous
- Prior surgery
- Premature birth
- Certain medicine
You will be asked about your symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. The doctor will run tests to find out what is causing swallowing problems. Tests may include:
- A test to look for problems while you swallow
- An upper GI endoscopy—a scope is used to view throat from back of mouth to the stomach
- A barium swallow—x-ray that uses a special dye to highlight throat
- Tests on the muscles of the esophagus
Treatment depends on the cause. You may need:
- Esophageal dilation —making the esophagus wider where it narrows
- Surgery—to treat GERD or take out something that is blocking the path
Dietary changes such as:
- Not eating foods that cause problems
- Eating softer or pureed foods
- Using a feeding tube if needed
- Speech therapy—this will teach you 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
Dysphagia. Cedars-Sinai website. Available at: https://www.cedars-sinai.org/health-library/diseases-and-conditions/d/dyphagia.html. Accessed August 14, 2018.
Dysphagia. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T906517/Dysphagia . Updated March 21, 2017. August 14, 2018.
Dysphagia. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gastrointestinal-disorders/esophageal-and-swallowing-disorders/dysphagia. Updated April 2018. Accessed August 14, 2018.
Swallowing disorders in adults. American-Speech-Language-Hearing Association website. Available at: https://www.asha.org/public/speech/swallowing/Swallowing-Disorders-in-Adults. Accessed August 14, 2018.