Friday, June 23, 2023

What are the causes of swallowing disorders? How is it treated?

 Swallowing disorders, also known as dysphagia, occur when there is difficulty moving food or liquid from the mouth to the stomach

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 Swallowing is a complex process that involves many muscles and nerves, and any condition that weakens or damages these muscles and nerves can cause dysphagia
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 Some of the possible causes of swallowing disorders include:
  • Neurological disorders: Certain conditions that affect the brain and nervous system, such as Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, ALS, and stroke, can lead to swallowing difficulties
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  • Muscle disorders: Disorders that affect muscles all over the body, such as myasthenia gravis and muscular dystrophy, can cause difficulty swallowing. Disorders of the esophagus, such as achalasia, systemic sclerosis, cricopharyngeal spasms, and esophageal spasms, can also affect the ability to swallow
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  • Aging: Due to natural aging and normal wear and tear on the esophagus, as well as a greater risk of certain conditions, such as stroke or Parkinson's disease, older adults are at higher risk of swallowing difficulties
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  • Certain health conditions: People with certain neurological or nervous system disorders are more likely to have difficulty swallowing. For example, hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can affect nerve function related to swallowing. Eosinophilic esophagitis is a chronic condition that can cause swallowing difficulties in infants, children, and adults. Allergies can also affect swallowing
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The treatment for difficulty swallowing depends on the cause and severity of the problem
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 Some possible treatments include:
  • Medications: Depending on the diagnosis, medications may be prescribed to treat the underlying condition causing the swallowing disorder
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  • Swallowing therapy: This involves working with a speech-language pathologist to learn exercises and techniques to improve swallowing
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  • Surgery: Surgery might be needed to relieve swallowing problems caused by throat narrowing or blockages, including bony outgrowths, vocal cord paralysis, pharyngoesophageal diverticula, GERD and achalasia, or to treat esophageal cancer
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  • Changing your diet: Depending on the diagnosis, your doctor may recommend changes to your diet, such as eating softer foods or avoiding certain foods that are difficult to swallow
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  • Other treatments: Other treatments may include relaxing an esophageal sphincter that is too tight, or removing the cause of a swallowing disorder
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The problem with swallowing is that it can lead to health issues and social problems, such as choosing not to eat meals with others
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 Signs of dysphagia include coughing or choking when eating or drinking, bringing food back up, feeling that food is stuck in your throat or chest, and a gurgly, wet-sounding voice when eating or drinking
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 Over time, dysphagia can also cause symptoms such as weight loss, dehydration, and repeated chest infections
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