North Texas Gastroenterology Associates PLLC
Gastroenterologists located in Sherman, Anna, & Across North Texas
If you or a loved one struggles to swallow foods or liquids, a condition called dysphagia, you can turn to North Texas Gastroenterology Associates PLLC in Sherman and Anna, Texas, for top-quality care. Joseph Kim, MD, Jermaine Clarke, DO, MBA, and their expert team diagnose and treat dysphagia to give you a better quality of life. Call the office for an appointment or use the online booking feature today.
What is dysphagia?
Dysphagia is a swallowing disorder in which you find it difficult to swallow foods and liquids. It might take longer to move these substances from your mouth to your stomach. You can experience pain while swallowing or not be able to swallow at all. Dysphagia can indicate a serious problem requiring medical intervention.
What are the symptoms of dysphagia?
If you experience dysphagia, you might notice one or more of the following symptoms:
- Pain when swallowing
- Being unable to swallow
- Food getting stuck in your throat
- Frequent heartburn
- Acid reflux
- Unexplained weight loss
- Gagging or coughing when swallowing
Dysphagia makes it difficult for you to take in enough calories, nutrients, and fluids needed to properly nourish your body. Choking, dehydration, weight loss, and aspiration pneumonia are complications that can result from untreated dysphagia.
What are the risk factors for dysphagia?
While anybody can experience swallowing problems, certain things increase your risk. Examples include older age, having a neurological or nervous system problem (Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy, etc.), and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Other risk factors include stroke, head and spinal cord injuries, and cancer of the esophagus, head, or neck.
How does my provider diagnose dysphagia?
To properly diagnose dysphagia and develop a treatment plan, your specialist reviews your symptoms and medical history. They complete a physical exam and use various tests to find the root cause of your swallowing problems.
Examples include X-rays with contrast medium like barium, other swallowing studies, endoscopy to view the inside of your esophagus, esophageal muscle tests, CT scans, MRIs, or other imaging procedures.
What are my dysphagia treatment options?
If you or someone you know suffers from dysphagia, your provider will recommend one of the following treatments:
Making changes to your lifestyle can reduce the unpleasant symptoms associated with dysphagia. Examples of these changes include:
- Eating smaller, more frequent meals
- Cutting foods into small pieces
- Chewing slowly
- Avoiding foods that are difficult to swallow
It’s also important to avoid smoking or chewing tobacco and drinking caffeinated and alcoholic beverages.
Your specialist can work with you to begin swallowing exercises that strengthen the muscles responsible for swallowing and stimulate specific nerves.
Taking medications can reduce the swallowing problems associated with GERD, eosinophilic esophagitis, esophageal spasms, and other gastrointestinal problems.
Esophageal dilation using an endoscope and balloon-like device, using a feeding tube to bypass swallowing, or undergoing surgery are options for severe dysphagia cases.
Your doctor might use surgery to clear a blockage or alter tissue associated with swallowing. They can place a stent or tube to open up a narrowing or blockage in your esophagus.
If you struggle with dysphagia and have trouble swallowing, call North Texas Gastroenterology Associates PLLC today or schedule an appointment online.
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