A lot of muscles are used to move food from the mouth, to the throat, and then down into the food pipe. In this video, Dr. J.P. Gniady discusses the common causes, diagnosis, and treatment options for patients that are bothered by having swallowing problems.
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Describing the Problem
Issues with swallowing are typically described in two different ways:
- Getting food and liquid into the esophagus, or initiating the swallow.
- Feeling like food gets stuck midway through the chest as it begins to go down.
Problems with initiating the swallow tend to be the most common, with particular problems at the top of the esphagus where a muscle needs to relax to allow it to open up and let food pass in. Problems with this muscle are typically caused by inflamation and muscle tightness and tension.
Diagnosing the Problem
Diagnosing the issue is done by:
- First, using a visual exam. Your doctor will look for issues with inflamation, specifically anything that stands out with the top muscle above the esphagus, and even exam the vocal cords.
- If needed, they will recommend a swallow test. In this test, you are given different food and liquids to eat and drink while X-Rays are taken to examine all of the muscle groups in the throat and how they function, assess strength, if food is moving properly, and if the top muslce is relaxing enough to allow food to enter the esphagus.
To assist in alleviating the issue there are different treatment options available depending on the cause:
- The most common cause tends to be inflammation. Typically, this is a result of acid reflux. For this, some simple treatment may be in order.
- For more serious muscle issues, it may be need to be stretched out or weakened either chemically or surgically.