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Swallow Disorders

ENT Specialists

ENTs and Allergy Clinics located in Salt Lake City, UT; Murray, UT; Tooele, UT; Draper, UT; & West Jordan, UT

One in 25 adults lives with the discomfort of a swallow disorder, struggling with difficulty swallowing, choking, and chest pain after swallowing. The experienced team at ENT Specialists provides comprehensive care for swallow disorders at offices in Salt Lake City, Murray, Draper and Tooele, Utah. Don’t wait to get relief from a swallow disorder. Call one of the offices or to schedule an appointment online.

Swallow Disorders Q & A

What causes a swallow disorder?

Difficulty swallowing, also called dysphagia, occurs when you have a hard time moving food and liquids through your mouth and throat, down your esophagus, and finally into your stomach. The problem is often caused by nerve or muscle problems that interfere with the swallowing process.

You can develop two types of dysphagia: esophageal dysphagia and oropharyngeal dysphagia. Esophageal dysphagia occurs when food gets stuck in your esophagus, while oropharyngeal dysphagia includes problems moving food through your mouth and into your throat.

Some medications lead to swallow disorders. Dysphagia is also caused by many health conditions, including:

  • Stroke
  • Acid reflux
  • Esophageal obstruction
  • Eosinophilic esophagitis
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Alzheimer’s disease

Head and neck injuries and a tumor in your throat, mouth, or esophagus can also cause a swallowing disorder.

What symptoms occur due to a swallow disorder?

Swallow disorders cause symptoms such as:

  • Drooling
  • Hoarseness
  • Regurgitation
  • Choking
  • Heartburn
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Wet, gurgly voice after swallowing
  • Coughing or clearing your throat during meals

Esophageal dysphagia typically makes you feel like you have something stuck in your throat, while oropharyngeal dysphagia increases your risk of breathing food or fluids into your windpipe.

How do ENT providers diagnose swallow disorders?

After reviewing your symptoms and performing a physical examination, ENT Specialists may perform one of several advanced tests to evaluate your dysphagia, such as:

  • Dynamic swallowing study
  • Upper endoscopy
  • Flexible endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES)
  • Narrow band imaging (NBI) endoscopy
  • Esophageal muscle scan

Your provider may also order a barium X-ray to assess muscular activity in your esophagus.

How do ENT providers treat swallow disorders?

You may need medical care for any underlying conditions causing your dysphagia. The team at ENT Specialists offers comprehensive care for some problems, such as an esophageal blockage or reflux, while they may refer you to a specialist for other conditions.

Many patients benefit from swallow therapy, which is provided on-site by the speech-language pathologists at ENT Specialists. Swallow therapy includes exercises to improve the strength and coordination of the muscles involved in swallowing. 

You also learn techniques to improve your ability to swallow. For example, you may need to change the consistency of liquids or modify your body position during and after meals.

If you develop difficulty swallowing or pain when you swallow, call ENT Specialists or schedule an appointment online.