Dysphagia is also known as finding it difficult to swallow. This is mostly concerned with a problem of the throat or the esophagus which is the muscular tube that leads to moving the food as well as liquid from the back of the mouth to the stomach. This medical condition can occur to any individual but it is quiet commonly seen in older people, small babies and those individuals who are having trouble with the brain or the nervous system. It is said that there are around 50 pairs of muscles as well as nerves which are used for helping in swallowing. This would mean that there are many things which can go wrong and also lead to swallowing issues in the individual. Few of those conditions would include, GERD or acid reflux, goiter, heartburn, esophagitis, stomach cancer, thyroid nodule, snake bites and herpes esophagitis.
Swallowing is known to occur in four different phases and they are, oral preparatory, oral, pharyngeal and last is esophageal. Hence the difficulty of swallowing can be broken into two categories and they are oropharyngeal wherein it includes the first three phases and the second category is esophageal.
Dysphagia can come and go and it can also vary in severity of the condition. It can be mild, severe or over time become worse. Below are the symptoms of dysphagia which an individual may experience:
- The individual may experience signs of dehydration and malnutrition
- While eating you may feel like choking. In such cases you may need to visit the doctor for getting further diagnosis as well as treatment.
- Another indication of dysphagia is gagging or choking while trying to swallow.
- Constant recurrence of heartburn can also indicate swallowing issues in the individual.
- The individual has hoarseness in his voice which is yet another indication of swallowing troubles.
- The individual may experience a certain kind of sensation as if the food is being stuck in the chest, throat or at the back of the breastbone.
- There is unexplained weight loss in the individual which can also lead to swallowing troubles.
- There can be issues of regurgitation wherein it can go as far as bringing the food back. This is also a grave concern in the individual.
- There can be a sense of difficulty when it comes to trying to control food present in the mouth.
Apart from the ones mentioned above, few of the other symptoms of dysphagia are recurrent case of pneumonia, unable to control saliva, finding it difficult to initiate swallowing, improper oral management, unable to maintain lip closure due to which there is leaking of food or liquid from the oral cavity, there is complaint of fullness till the neck even after consuming little food, constant case of drooling, loss of weight or getting dehydrated due to lack of proper food intake, there are certain changes in the eating habits which can include avoidance of foods or drinks, there is extra effort required on part of the individual to chew or swallow their food, there is presence of wet or gurgly sound during or after eating or drinking something, people may also complain of food sticking and lack of coordination between breathing and swallowing.
All of these sensation can lead to the individual to avoid eating, skipping their meal or there would be loss of appetite.
Those children who have difficulty in swallowing while eating may:
- tend to regurgitate during their meals.
- refuse to consume certain kind of meals.
- Tend to lose weight without trying.
- Would find difficulty in breathing while they are eating food.
- There would be instances of food or liquids being leaking from their mouth