Dysphagia – Causes of Dysphagia, Treatment of Dysphagia


is term used to describe difficulty in swallowing. People having dysphagia may experience pain and discomfort while swallowing solid foods, liquids or saliva. Sometimes they are not able to swallow at all. In this article we discuss causes and treatment of dysphagia.

Causes of Dysphagia:

Muscle and nerve disorders:

About 50 pairs of muscles and many nerves are involved in moving ingested food from the mouth to the stomach. If there is abnormality in any of these muscles and nerves the result is dysphagia. Some of the disorders that cause dysphagia are: stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and myasthenia gravis.

Eating habits:

Poor eating habits like taking large bites, eating too fast, eating while lying down and not taking enough water while swallowing increases risk of dysphagia. Missing teeth or dentures can also lead to improper swallowing.

Esophageal disorders:

The swallowed food goes into esophagus, hence it is a vital organ of digestive system. If there are any problems in functioning of esophagus the result can be dysphagia. For example, in acid reflux the linings of esophagus are depleted. This narrows the opening of esophagus leading to dysphagia.


Dysphagia is one of the presentations (symptoms) of diseases like cancers, enlarged thyroid gland and enlarged heart.

Treatment of Dysphagia:

Dysphagia is treated depending on its underlying cause. It is


correctly by techniques such as fiber optic laryngoscopy, video fluoroscopy and ultrasound. Once the cause and the extent of dysphagia is found, treatment is done by rehabilitation, medications or surgery.

In rehabilitation, the patient is taught to chew carefully and drink more water while eating. Exercises are recommended to strengthen swallowing muscles, such as tongue and esophagus. Medications are given to treat the root cause of dysphagia involving muscle and nerve disorders. The patient may need surgery in the severe dysphagia.

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