Swallowing Disorders

Southern ENT Associates -  - Ear, Nose & Throat Doctor

Southern ENT Associates

Ear, Nose & Throat Doctors located in Thibodaux, Houma, Raceland, Morgan City, New Iberia, Youngsville, and Opelousas, LA

If you’ve ever had a hard time swallowing a large tablet or had an ice cube get stuck in your throat, you know the uncomfortable feeling of a swallowing disorder. The physicians at Southern ENT Associates work very closely with each patient who has difficulty swallowing, identifying the underlying cause, then implementing personalized treatment to improve their swallowing ability. If you have trouble eating or drinking, don’t wait to get help. Book an appointment online, or call whichever of the six offices in South Louisiana is closest to you.

Swallowing Disorders Q & A

What is a Swallowing Disorder?

When you have difficulty swallowing, also called dysphagia, you have a hard time getting foods and liquids to travel through your mouth and down your throat to your stomach.

The process of swallowing involves multiple parts and movements, many of which are done automatically by your body.

Swallowing involves:

  • Chewing your food (the only part you control)
  • Moving food to the back of your mouth (automatically done by your tongue)
  • Giving food access to the esophagus (muscles must open and close properly)
  • Propelling food down your esophagus (relies on smooth muscle contractions)
  • Getting food into your stomach (muscles must open to let food pass into the stomach)

You can develop various problems at every step of the process that make it hard to swallow.

What are the Symptoms of a Swallowing Disorder?

In addition to being unable to swallow or having pain when you swallow, you may develop symptoms such as:

  • Feeling like food gets stuck in your throat
  • Hoarseness
  • Regurgitating food
  • Frequent heartburn
  • Drooling
  • Gagging when you swallow
  • Needing to eat smaller pieces of food
  • Needing extra time to chew

No matter what symptoms you develop, it’s important to see a doctor at Southern ENT Associates to prevent complications such as not getting enough nutrition or difficulty breathing.

What Causes Swallowing Disorders?

Your swallowing problem may be temporary if it’s due to a sore throat that heals in a few weeks. Some adults may not be able to swallow if their dentures don’t fit properly.

If you have ongoing trouble with swallowing, it’s usually because of one of many possible underlying health conditions, such as:

  • Paralyzed vocal cords
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • A narrowed or blocked esophagus
  • Nerve damage or disorders
  • Muscle spasms or weakness
  • Thyroid nodules
  • Cancer of the throat, mouth, or salivary glands

You can also have a hard time swallowing after suffering a stroke.

How are Swallowing Disorders Treated?

After a thorough examination and undergoing a swallowing test, your doctor creates a customized treatment plan based on the cause and severity of your swallowing disorder.

Your treatment may include any number of options that target the underlying health condition responsible for the problem. Your doctor may also recommend dietary changes or minimally invasive surgery to repair muscles or to treat a narrowed or blocked esophagus.

Many patients benefit from swallowing therapy, also called swallowing rehabilitation. During this treatment, a speech pathologist teaches you tips to help you swallow and exercises to help coordinate those essential muscles.

Don’t wait to get help with a swallowing problem. Call Southern ENT Associates or book an appointment online.

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