Though you may not give it much thought, swallowing is a complex process that involves cooperation and coordination of your mouth, esophagus, and stomach. Any problem with one or more of these body parts may cause difficulty in swallowing. At Anne Arundel Gastroenterology Associates, P.A. in Annapolis, Stevensville, Odenton, Bowie, and Pasadena, Maryland, the experienced gastroenterologists thoroughly investigate your swallowing function to find the root cause of your problem and provide the best treatment. To schedule a consultation, call the office nearest you or book an appointment online today.
Swallowing difficulty, medically known as dysphagia, means you may have a hard time moving food from your mouth to your stomach.
Your swallowing problem may be one of these kinds of dysphagia:
Oropharyngeal dysphagia means you have a hard time initiating a swallow in your mouth or throat.
With esophageal dysphagia, you have the sensation that food is stuck in the esophagus.
The cause of your swallowing difficulty can depend on where the problem occurs.
With oropharyngeal dysphagia, you may have problems with the muscles and nerves in your mouth, throat, or upper esophageal sphincter. This may occur from an underlying neurological condition such as traumatic brain injury or stroke.
With esophageal dysphagia, a disease that affects the esophagus may cause your swallowing problem. This may include esophageal strictures, obstruction, or inflammation.
Nerve and muscle disorders such as esophageal peristalsis or achalasia may also cause esophageal dysphagia. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or a hiatal hernia may also affect swallowing in your esophagus.
When you visit Anne Arundel Gastroenterology Associates with concerns about your swallowing difficulties, your gastroenterologist conducts a thorough evaluation to find the cause of your problem.
During your consultation, they review your symptoms and medical history, and then perform a physical exam. They may also run diagnostic tests to confirm or rule out a suspected diagnosis. Testing may include a chest X-ray, barium swallow, or upper endoscopy.
Your provider may also recommend a swallowing study to evaluate your swallowing process and rule out aspiration, which is when food enters your lungs when you swallow. Aspirating food or liquids increases your risk of developing pneumonia.
Your provider at Anne Arundel Gastroenterology Associates creates an individualized treatment plan for your swallowing problem based on the cause, severity, and extent of your condition.
Treatment may include:
When it comes to swallowing difficulties, the team works with many specialists, including speech therapists and occupational therapists, to help you get the care you need.
The goal of treatment is to improve your nutritional intake and quality of life.
To schedule your consultation with the experts at Anne Arundel Gastroenterology Associates, P.A., call the office or book an appointment online today.