Problem Swallowing

Gastroenterology located in Mesa, AZ

Problem Swallowing services offered in Mesa, AZ

Dysphagia, or problem swallowing, affects about one in six Americans today. Unfortunately, nearly half of people with problems swallowing don’t reach out for help. Desert Valley Gastroenterology is here to change that narrative and get you back to your life. Call the Mesa, Arizona office today to schedule an appointment!

What causes problems swallowing?

Problem swallowing, or dysphagia, is difficulty swallowing normally. That may mean you have trouble starting to swallow or that food frequently gets stuck in your throat, neck, or upper chest.

There are two main categories of this condition: 

Esophageal dysphagia

Esophageal dysphagia usually occurs because of structural issues in the esophagus. 

The most common example is strictures, scar tissue buildup that occurs because of chronic acid reflux (GERD). Strictures cause esophageal narrowing, which makes it difficult to swallow.

Other causes of esophageal dysphagia include esophageal inflammation, tumors, and other structural abnormalities that disrupt esophagus function. Less commonly, nerve and muscle issues may cause esophageal dysphagia.

Oropharyngeal dysphagia

Oropharyngeal dysphagia frequently occurs because of problems with the nerves and muscles in the mouth, back of the throat, or upper end of the esophagus. For example, oropharyngeal dysphagia may occur after a stroke or other neurological issues. 

Rarely, structural issues, like scar tissue strictures and tumors, can cause oropharyngeal dysphagia. 

You can experience pain during swallowing or food sticking in your throat without actually having a problem swallowing. 

What challenges do problems swallowing cause?

Problems swallowing can cause a variety of issues, including:

  • Discomfort or pain
  • Coughing
  • Choking
  • Regurgitation (food coming back up)
  • Gurgling
  • Drooling
  • Hoarseness

A problem swallowing could even lead to aspiration pneumonia, a serious condition in which you inhale a piece of food. 

How is problem swallowing diagnosed?

Problems swallowing usually require diagnostic tests, such as a swallowing study, barium X-ray, or esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD). The Desert Valley Gastroenterology team generally performs the procedures in the Southwest Endoscopy & Surgicenter in Gilbert. 

How is a problem swallowing treated?

Treatment is specific to your type of dysphagia and its cause. You may need a swallowing therapist who teaches you special exercises and techniques for oropharyngeal dysphagia. 

For esophageal dysphagia, you may need medication to relieve acid reflux, a procedure to widen your esophagus or surgical removal of a tumor or other growth. 

Every case of dysphagia is different, so if you have a problem swallowing, the Desert Valley Gastroenterology team works to uncover its true cause and give you a prompt solution. 

Problem swallowing is very treatable, so you don’t have to struggle at every meal any longer. Call Desert Valley Gastroenterology to schedule an appointment.