Do You Have These Symptoms of a Swallowing Disorder?

Nerve and muscle problems, injury, and certain cancers can cause problems swallowing. 

It may not cross your mind when you’re enjoying a cold beverage or eating your favorite meal, but swallowing involves complex, coordinated muscle movements that control your throat, mouth, and esophagus. 

An issue with any of the vital steps involved can cause problems swallowing.

At Southern ENT our otolaryngologists and head and neck surgeons have extensive experience diagnosing and treating a wide range of issues that affect the head and neck region. We routinely care for patients with dysphagia (trouble swallowing) and odynophagia (throat or chest pain when swallowing).

To provide some guidance and increase awareness, we have gathered some of the most common symptoms that may point to a problem swallowing. If you have any of these symptoms, it’s best to schedule a visit with an ENT specialist to get to the bottom of your issue.

Swallowing: a vital function

Difficulty swallowing may go unnoticed initially. Symptoms may appear gradually and may be subtle and hard to detect at first. You may not realize you’re having an issue swallowing but may instead notice a difference in the way your throat feels when you're eating or drinking.

Swallowing occurs in distinct stages. The first stage involves biting and chewing food. Stage two happens when the tongue pushes food to the back of the mouth, where it triggers muscle contraction to allow food to enter the esophagus. 

Muscles then engage in stage three to push food down the esophagus. As the food moves through your food pipe, the lower esophageal sphincter (a band of muscular tissue that acts as a valve) opens to allow food to pass into your stomach and then closes.

Warning signs of a swallowing disorder

Swallowing disorders can cause various symptoms. You may have only one symptom, or you may notice several symptoms. 

Our highly skilled ENT physicians at Southern ENT can quickly and accurately diagnose swallowing disorders and create an appropriate treatment plan. Here are some symptoms to watch out for:

Other symptoms associated with swallowing disorders

Many of our patients with swallowing disorders notice that something is different in the way they swallow. Take note of your symptoms and discuss them with one of our ENT physicians. 

Are you experiencing pain or finding yourself coughing anytime during the process of swallowing? It may feel as if food is sticking when you swallow, or you may find that swallowing requires more effort than usual. Patients with swallowing disorders may also experience:

In some cases, issues such as tasting sour liquid after you swallow may indicate an underlying problem like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). 

GERD occurs when the valve that closes off the contents of your stomach after you swallow fails to close tightly. As a result, the acidic stomach contents flow backward into the esophagus (food pipe).

Swallowing should feel effortless. If you notice anything different with the way you’re swallowing, it’s time to see a professional for a thorough evaluation. Because some swallowing disorders are serious, proper diagnosis is key.

At Southern ENT we utilize the latest diagnostic approach and years of experience to evaluate and treat even the most difficult swallowing disorders. Rest assured that if you have dysphagia, you’re in good hands. 

To learn more and to schedule an appointment with our team, call our office nearest you or request your appointment online.

For your convenience, we have seven offices located in Thibodaux, Houma, Raceland, Morgan City, New Iberia, Opelousas, and Youngsville, Louisiana.

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