Southend Gastroenterology Associates

Problem Swallowing

Problem Swallowing

Problem Swallowing services offered in Louisville, KY and New Albany, IN

If you get food stuck in your esophagus or throat frequently, have choking spells when swallowing, or experience pain when you swallow, you need to be evaluated for swallowing problems. This could be a sign of problems with esophagus like strictures, rings, infections and even cancer of the esophagus. Sanjay Jain, MD, offers evaluation and treatment of swallowing problems at Southend Gastroenterology Associates in Louisville, Kentucky. Call the office or schedule an appointment online today if you’re struggling with swallowing problems.

What are swallowing problems?

Swallowing problems, or dysphagia, describe the difficulty in the normal function and coordination of your swallow. The normal process of swallowing food, liquid, and saliva is actually quite complex. It requires precise coordination between your mouth, throat, and esophagus muscles. 

Problems with swallowing are categorized in one of two ways: 

Oropharyngeal dysphagia

Oropharyngeal dysphagia usually results from a neuromuscular disease or obstructions. It describes problems initiating a swallow (before food even reaches the esophagus — the muscular tube through which food passes from the mouth to the stomach). 

A person with oropharyngeal dysphagia may experience coughing or choking when they try to swallow. It may feel like food goes down the wrong pipe. 

Esophageal dysphagia 

Esophageal dysphagia describes swallowing problems that originate in the esophagus. You may feel like food or liquids get stuck in the chest or throat. These items can sometimes reflux back up.

Causes of esophageal dysphagia include mucosal rings, esophagitis, esophageal cancer, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). 

When do swallowing problems need medical attention?

Indications that you or a loved one has problems with swallowing that need medical care include:

  • Choking or coughing when consuming food or drink
  • Changes in voice quality when eating or drinking
  • Food getting stuck in your throat
  • Leaking food or liquid from your mouth
  • Extra time needed to eat or drink
  • Recurrent pneumonia
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Dehydration

Get help for swallowing problems to avoid malnutrition or chronic lung disease. Problems with swallowing can also be embarrassing and lead to isolation.

How do you treat swallowing problems?

Dr. Jain develops a customized treatment plan for you based on your type of dysphagia, the severity of your swallowing problem, and your symptoms. 

Treatments depend upon the cause and may include the following:

  • Esophageal dilation (stretching the esophagus)
  • Medication for issues like GERD or motility issues
  • Esophageal stent placement
  • Feeding tube placement for nutritional support

Call Southend Gastroenterology Associates or schedule an appointment online today so you can get treatment for dysphagia.