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Swallowing Disorders

Abnormal Swallowing

Swallowing problems can involve any part of the 4 swallowing phases. Problems can be present at birth, accompany the process of aging, or be caused by exposure to foods, drugs, or environmental irritants.

Below are listed some of the symptoms and a few common conditions that arise from specific anatomic regions.

Pharyngeal Laryngeal Esophageal
throat tightness throat clearing heartburn
throat pain hoarseness chest pain
lump in throat coughing lump in throat
painful swallow aspiration regurgitation
inability to swallow choking nausea

Oral Problems

These are caused by failure of the facial muscles, tongue, or throat to function.

  • Neuromuscular disease such as ALS or Parkinsons's
  • Stroke that damages neurological function
  • Myasthenia that slows muscle function
  • Tumors that obstruct movement of the muscles
  • Trauma to the head that impairs neurological functions

Pharyngeal Problems

  • Neuromuscular
  • Stroke
  • Tumors
  • Head trauma
  • Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR)

    This is a common condition caused by acid from the stomach reaching up into the larynx and causing burning on the vocal cords. It is a frequent cause of chronic hoarseness, coughing, and frequent throat clearing.

Esophageal Problems

The commonest of these is GERD, gastroesophageal reflux disease. This occurs when acid stomach contents flows back up into the esophagus. Many factors weaken the valve that normally prevents acid from refluxing; hiatal hernia, stress, caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, pregnancy, and many medications. If untreated this can lead to esophagitis, an inflammatory condition of the esophagus with symptoms of heartburn, nausea, and chest pain.

  • GERD
  • Esophagitis
  • Esophageal Spasm
  • Strictures
  • Tumors
  • Neuromuscular disorders
  • Barretts esophagus

    A condition in which the cells lining the esophagus change into the secreting cells of the stomach. It is necessary to observe the progress of this conditions with endoscopies and frequent biopsies.

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