Things You Should Know About Dysphagia
If you’ve ever felt like food is stuck in your throat or it’s painful to swallow, you know how unpleasant, or downright frightening it can be. When you have difficulty swallowing that happens regularly, you may have dysphagia.
Here’s what you should know about dysphagia and difficulty swallowing.
What Is Dysphagia?
Dysphagia is the term used to describe difficulty swallowing foods, liquids, or even your own saliva. Dysphagia can occur at any age, but it is most common in older adults.
What Are the Symptoms of Dysphagia?
Every person is different, so signs and symptoms of dysphagia can vary but may include:
- Pain while swallowing
- Inability to swallow
- Feeling like food is stuck in the throat
- Coughing or gagging while swallowing
- Weight loss
Causes of Dysphagia
Swallowing is a complex activity that involves many different muscles and nerves. Any condition or injury to the muscles or nerves that assist in swallowing can cause dysphagia. Some of the most common causes of difficulty swallowing include:
Is Dysphagia a Sign of Cancer?
Unfortunately, the most common symptom of esophageal cancer is difficulty swallowing. When cancer is the cause of dysphagia, people complain of difficulty swallowing and feeling like food is getting stuck in the esophagus, and the symptoms get worse gradually over time.
Medications that Cause Dysphagia
There are several different kinds of medications that can cause you to have difficulty swallowing and increase your risk of developing dysphagia. Medications that affect the smooth muscle of the esophagus involved with swallowing, medications that cause dry mouth, and medications that depress the central nervous system can all cause symptoms of dysphagia. If you are concerned that your medications may be causing you to have difficulty swallowing, it’s important to discuss it with your doctor. Don’t stop taking your medication until you’ve talked to your healthcare provider.
Struggling to Swallow? Talk To Your Doctor Today.
If you struggle to swallow every once in a while, that’s nothing to worry about. But difficulty swallowing often, especially if paired with other symptoms, should be checked out right away. Dysphagia can be a concerning and life-altering diagnosis, and the sooner you know what it is, the sooner you can manage it.
If you are having trouble swallowing, do not wait — schedule an appointment today!