People with dysphagia experience pain or difficulty swallowing. Dysphagia is the inability of food or liquids to pass easily from the mouth, into the throat and to the esophagus and stomach during the process of swallowing. Acidic stomach juices, or food and fluids, are pushed back up into the esophagus. Too much reflux can irritate or scar the esophagus or vocal cords, leading to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or esophageal stricture.
The following are the most common symptoms of dysphagia:
- Eating slowly
- Trying to swallow a single mouthful of food several times
- Feeling that food or liquids are sticking in the throat or esophagus
- Chest or throat discomfort
- Congestion in the chest after eating or drinking
- Tiredness or shortness of breath while eating or drinking
- Frequent respiratory infections
- Vomiting frequently
- Frequent sneezing after eating
- Weight loss
Treatment of dysphagia occurs when symptoms of GERD are also present. When treated for GERD, the patient's esophagus and throat are less irritated by acid reflux. People with esophageal stricture may have their esophagus periodically dilated, or widened, under anesthesia.
The experts at the UK Digestive Health Program's Heartburn Clinic can diagnose and treat GERD symptoms resulting from dysphagia. This multidisciplinary clinic allows patients to see a gastroenterologist and a surgeon in one visit, if needed. These specialists work together to offer patients the most up-to-date information on the latest diagnosis and treatment methods. Call 859-257-1000 or toll free 800-333-8874 for an appointment or view a list of our physicians.