Swallowing Disorders or Dysphagia

The Voice Clinic

Swallowing Disorders or Dysphagia

People with this condition have difficulty with swallowing. Some people with dysphagia may be unable to swallow solid foods, liquids, or even saliva. This can lead to the patient becoming malnourished, since he or she is unable to take in enough calories. Dysphagia can also lead to serious infections when poor swallowing causes food to get trapped in the lungs or outside the esophagus.

Dysphagia happens when the larynx does not close tightly during swallowing and when the pharynx or throat does not move food to the esophagus in a coordinated or effective way. Dysphagia is often seen in patients who have suffered strokes but can also occur following neck surgery or after radiation treatments for head and neck cancer.

Swallowing can also be impacted by muscle tension patterns in the tongue, jaw and throat. Often cases that do not present dangers due to aspiration of liquids or solids following visualization testing, present patterns of tension in the mouth and throat that can be easily fixed. Muscle Tension Dysphagia is similar to losing the voice to tension and therefore, many exercises that can treat voice tension can treat swallowing tension as well. Book an appointment with Aaron if this has taken over your daily life.

If you notice symptoms that you think could fit any of these conditions, consult your doctor immediately for referral.

Dr. Osborn and Dr. Low examine a patient's throat

Dr. Osborn and Dr. Low examine a patient's throat

FEES - Swallow Testing

Flexible Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallow (FEES) is completed to assess the pharyngeal/laryngeal phase of swallowing. Each patient is observed consuming foods and liquids for evaluation of aspiration, penetration, and pharyngeal and laryngeal phase dysfunction.

Symptoms of Swallowing Disorders:

  • Drooling
  • A feeling that food or liquid is sticking in the throat
  • Discomfort in the throat or chest (when reflux present)
  • A sensation of a foreign body or “lump” in the throat
  • Weight loss and inadequate nutrition due to prolonged or more significant problems with swallowing
  • Coughing or choking caused by bits of food, liquid, or saliva not passing easily during swallowing, and being sucked into the lungs.

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