If you really stop and think about how you eat, it is actually a pretty long process. First, you need to get the food or drink to your mouth. This could happen through a fork, spoon, straw or your hands. Then you open your mouth and take in the food. Then, you close your lips to keep the food from falling out of your mouth. You then chew the food or move the liquid to the back and prepare to swallow. If one of these areas is not functioning properly, it can cause difficulty swallowing, called Dysphagia.
General signs of Dysphagia could include coughing while you eat, the extra effort needed to chew and swallow, having a hard time breathing after meals, or unexpected weight loss. The causes of Dysphagia can range from trauma such as surgical nerve or muscle damage or chemotherapy to recurrent pneumonia, coughing while consuming food or drink, or regurgitation of undigested foods.
At ENT Specialists we provide a thorough examination for people suffering from Dysphagia. Our Ear, Nose and Throat Physicians will examine the pharynx and larynx, and a Speech and Language Pathologist will provide speech and swallow therapy.
The primary goal of traditional swallowing therapy is to strengthen the muscles involved with swallowing by helping people chew their food and transfer it to the back of the throat. Most exercises will be used to strengthen the muscles in the jaw, tongue, and throat, while others involve practicing breath control during swallowing, preventing food from getting trapped in the throat, and how to expel trapped food. Dysphagia is a serious disorder that can be greatly improved with therapy from our ENT doctors.