If you have difficulty swallowing or frequently, cough or gag when you eat, you might have an issue known as dysphagia. It may affect your weight or cause you to have a nutrient deficiency. Fortunately, when you reach out to Georgetown ENT, you can find the help you need to correct the problem.
Dysphagia is a condition that causes difficulty swallowing, and it takes more effort as well as time to move liquids and food from your mouth to your stomach. When you have this issue, you might also have pain when you swallow. Sometimes, the food will feel like it’s lodged in your chest or throat. You might also have recurring heartburn, unintended weight loss, or gagging or coughing when you swallow.
It’s normal to occasionally have episodes where you have difficulty swallowing. It’s usually because you either don’t chew your food thoroughly or eat too fast. However, when it happens regularly, you may have a medical problem that requires a visit to an ENT doctor.
If you have symptoms of dysphagia, a Georgetown ENT will conduct a thorough evaluation. You’ll have to fill out a complete medical history. Then, your doctor will conduct a physical exam and possibly order some imaging tests.
Your doctor will start by asking you questions about your symptoms. Your doctor will want to know how often you experience these symptoms.
The doctor will also conduct a physical examination and may ask you to undergo testing, such as a dynamic swallowing test, X-ray, or endoscopy.
Dynamic Swallowing Test
A dynamic swallowing study consists of you swallowing barium-coated foods. They’ll all have different consistencies. As you swallow them, your doctor will use imaging to view how the foods travel from your mouth and down your throat. The test will be able to determine if the food is entering the wrong tube.
An X-ray may be used to view the inside of your esophagus – which is the tube that extends from your throat to your stomach. This X-ray will consist of your doctor asking you to drink a solution of barium. The barium will coat your esophagus to allow the doctor to see your esophagus better.
An endoscopy consists of your doctor inserting a thin tube with a light and camera on the end of it into your throat. Your doctor will view your esophagus in real-time to look for inflammation, a tumor, or narrowing. Your doctor also may recommend a fiber-optic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES), which is an endoscopy performed while you swallow.
An ENT doctor in Georgetown may also perform a manometry, which tests your esophageal muscle. Your practitioner will use a small tube with a pressure recorder inserted into your esophagus to evaluate how your esophagus contracts as you swallow. In addition, your doctor might use a CT scan to take cross-sectional images of your esophagus or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which uses radio waves to view the inside of your esophagus.
The treatment varies based on the cause of your dysphagia. With oropharyngeal dysphagia, meaning your swallowing problems deal with the chewing and preparing aspect of swallowing, you may require a therapist to help you with swallowing. You’ll learn exercises that’ll help you coordinate your swallowing muscles or retrain the nerves that stimulate swallowing.
When your esophagus is the problem, you may need to take medication to control a condition like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Your practitioner may recommend esophageal dilation – a procedure comprised of an endoscope that has a medical balloon on the end of it. Your doctor will inflate the balloon to stretch the inside of your esophagus.
Sometimes, surgery is necessary to alter your esophagus or apply stents into it to hold it open. Your ENT may recommend lifestyle changes like diet changes, as well.
Choose Our ENT Doctor in Georgetown, TX for Your Dysphagia
Dr. Scott Franklin is an ENT who recognizes that dysphagia can affect your overall health when you’re not receiving the nutrition you need. That’s why our ENT takes the necessary steps to accurately diagnose the problem and get to the root of it.
Book an appointment with Dr. Scott Franklin of Georgetown ENT, serving Georgetown and the surrounding Texas region, to swallow without difficulty once again. Contact us today at 512-869-0604 or use our appointment request form.