Dysphagia in St. Louis, MO
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What exactly is dysphagia?
Dysphagia is described as someone’s struggle to eat or drink food and/or liquid. There could be many reasons why someone could have dysphagia. It could be because of muscle spasms in the throat or esophagus because they didn’t chew their food sufficiently or additional internal complications. Dysphagia can also refer to the feeling of food being stuck in the neck or chest area. If you notice these symptoms and need care for dysphagia in St. Louis, MO, there is help available. Reach out to our highly trained gastrointestinal physicians at your nearest Specialists in Gastroenterology location today for more information about options we can offer to assist you in getting back to a better life.
What are the causes of dysphagia?
Dysphagia can be diagnosed as one of two variations. The causes are unique for both variations.
Oropharyngeal dysphagia is a condition where an individual often experiences difficulty when they first try to swallow. Neuromuscular concerns are more common in this form of dysphagia. This is because the muscles of the mouth, the back portion of the throat, and the upper esophagus directly communicate with the brain. Nerves in these areas are not immune to damage, which can result in complications with swallowing.
In some cases, narrowed areas in the esophagus (strictures) or tumors forming in the posterior portion of the throat can be the cause of your difficulty swallowing.
Esophageal dysphagia has a variety of causes, the most common being:
- Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE)
- Inflammation in the esophagus due to acid reflux
- Scarring in the esophagus from reflux (GERD)
- Esophageal muscle weakness
- Esophageal spasms
- Esophageal blockage due to a foreign body
- Achalasia (the condition wherein the lower esophageal sphincter is unable to relax during swallowing due to abnormal nerve control)
What are the symptoms of dysphagia?
Symptoms of dysphagia can differ from person to person. The typical symptoms and signs of dysphagia can include:
- Chest pain
- Liquid or food regurgitates via the nose
- Food impaction (food getting stuck)
- Coughing or gagging while swallowing
- Aspiration pneumonia
- Acid reflux
- Loss of voice
- Discomfort while swallowing
- The sensation of food being stuck in your chest or throat
- Lack of ability to swallow
- Unexplained weight loss
Should you have any of the above symptoms of dysphagia or trouble swallowing, it is important to consult with a specialist so that you can get the best treatment for your symptoms at one of our St. Louis, MO locations.
How is dysphagia treated?
At Specialists in Gastroenterology, we offer a variety of treatment options to help address the individualized needs of our patients. Common treatments for dysphagia involve:
- Implementing exercises to re-stimulate nerves that initiate the reflex of swallowing
- Practicing different swallowing techniques
- Surgical intervention
- Dilation of the esophagus
- Medications for reduction of acid reflux, muscle relaxers, or corticosteroids
- A liquid diet or feeding tube (for severe cases)
Partner with us to alleviate your symptoms
If you or a family member are facing the symptoms of dysphagia in St. Louis, MO, help is available. Request a consultation with a gastrointestinal specialist at a Specialists in Gastroenterology location in your community today if you experience any combination of the above symptoms consistently. It is important to meet with your provider promptly if weight loss or vomiting accompanies your trouble swallowing.
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