Dysphagia - Symptoms, Causes and Prevention

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Summary about Dysphagia

Dysphagia is difficulty in swallowing. The condition indicates that there is an issue with an individual’s throat or esophagus. Esophagus is basically the muscle-bound tubing that helps transports food and fluids to the stomach, from the throat. While the swallowing difficulties occur across the spectrum, the elder and infants, along with those who have a nervous system problem are more prone to it.

Scientists have identified many issues that could hinder the working of the throat or esophagus. While a certain proportion is not very serious, a noticeable portion is. Dysphagia is diagnosed only when the individual continuously finds it hard to swallow over regular points in time. This means that the person does not have dysphagia if he/she finds it hard to swallow once or twice (which is actually fairly normal).

Symptoms of Dysphagia

One should remain alert for certain behaviors that indicate a swallowing issue. These include:

  • Choking during a meal
  • An obstruction in the food passage that lasts for some moments 
  • Pain while swallowing
  • Pneumonia becomes a recurrent issue. This shows that the food is not entering the esophageal tube but into the lungs.
  • If the food gets stuck for more than a quarter of an hour, or 15 minutes, in the esophagus with no progress even when liquids are taken, the individual should immediately report to a hospital or an expert.

Causes of Dysphagia

Dysphagia is a condition which has multiple causes, partly because swallowing itself is not a simple process. If the nervous system receives a trauma or damage, it could seriously affect the nerve circuitry which is responsible for the swallowing. This trauma is generally a stroke or Parkinson's disease and dementia or some other time-based degenerative neurological condition.

Furthermore, there are also certain conditions in which the throat is obstructed or the esophagus narrows. These conditions could also play a causal role in dysphagia development. Oral cavity cancer or throat cancer lie in the aforementioned conditions. However, after proper treatment, the obstruction in the individual’s ceases to remain a significant problem.

Risk Factors of Dysphagia

The risk factors for dysphagia group into two separate categories. One category is related to aging. The more aged individual’s esophagus has gone through much more wear and tear than a young individual’s esophagus. Furthermore, more aged people are also more susceptible to developing some medical issues like Parkinson’s disease and stroke. However, difficulty in swallowing is still not a spontaneous aspect of growing old.

Certain medical ailments or conditions could also put the individual at more risk. Again, as mentioned above, these conditions usually damage the individual neural circuitry or the nervous system.

Preventive Measures of Dysphagia

While one cannot consciously prevent dysphagia, one could lower the risk greatly by consuming food more slowly while properly chewing it. Moreover, if the individual is displaying GERD symptoms, they should get themselves diagnosed and initiate treatment immediately. This could inadvertently make the individual less prone to dysphagia development, especially the one linked to the esophagus.

Types of Dysphagia

Experts have noted two types, categorized according to the problem. These are:

  • Mouth dysphagia or throat dysphagia. As the name indicates, this dysphagia is related to the back of the throat.
  • Esophageal dysphagia. The problems related to swallowing in this condition usually occur in the esophagus, or the tubing which connects the passage for the individual’s mouth to his/her stomach.

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