From time to time, everyone may experience that “frog in the throat” feeling. You may have to clear your throat frequently, or have trouble swallowing food or liquids. The symptoms related to dysphagia can vary in terms of severity and frequency. Note: If you feel as if you cannot breathe or are choking, you should seek emergency medical attention immediately. Call 911 or head to the nearest emergency room.
What is Dysphagia?
Dysphagia means difficulty swallowing. It may feel like food or medicine is stuck in your throat or esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that normally contracts and moves food down into the stomach. When you are swallowing and experience dysphagia in a non-emergent situation, it can be accompanied by pain or discomfort in the chest, throat, or esophageal area. Dysphagia can be attributed to a number of things. An otolaryngologist can help make an accurate diagnosis and treatment.
What Can Cause Difficulty Swallowing?
Inflammation of the esophagus is called esophagitis. The esophageal tube can become inflamed if you suffer from GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease), have an allergic reaction, or have something stuck in your throat that irritates the esophagus. Other problems can also cause esophagitis; a physician in Sewell should be seen to help diagnose your particular problem.
Narrowing of the esophagus can also lead to trouble swallowing. Esophageal narrowing can be the result of ulcers caused by the acidic back flow experienced in people with GERD. These ulcers may then cause scarring, which can narrow the esophagus, making it harder to swallow and possible for food or pills to become stuck.Enlarged lymph nodes can also cause blockage in the throat or esophagus. Diverticula, which are small sacs or pouches coming from an organ, are sometimes responsible for this narrowing also.
When to See the Doctor
A pill or food item may occasionally become lodged in the throat. This generally passes into the stomach and should not be a regular occurrence. If you are experiencing symptoms of dysphagia repeatedly or are alarmed by any of your symptoms, it is best to make an appointment with your physician. An otolaryngologist is a physician who specializes in the health of the ears, nose, and throat. Difficulty swallowing is not an uncommon problem, but it is also not one you should have to live with. There are treatments available, depending upon your diagnosis.
An ear, nose, and throat specialist will perform a diagnostic examination and recommend any appropriate testing that they feel would assist in an accurate diagnosis. Treatment for dysphagia could consist of simple exercises to strengthen the throat muscles, medications to ease inflammation or heal ulcerations, possible minimally invasive surgical procedures, or avoidance of certain foods. If you or your child are having symptoms of difficulty swallowing, items becoming lodged in your throat, or other bothersome throat problems, you may wish to contact the Becker ENT Center in Plainsboro to make an appointment for evaluation.