Dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, is a common issue many people experience. It is characterized by a difficulty passing food or liquid from the mouth into the stomach. Typically, difficulty swallowing is a temporary feeling that is not indicative of a serious disorder. However, if the difficulty doesn’t clear up on its own after a couple of days, you should make an appointment at Orlando ENT to see your ear, nose, and throat doctor for an evaluation.

Symptoms of a swallowing disorder include a sensation of a lump in your throat, coughing or choking while trying to eat or drink, drooling, and voice change. If the trouble occurs for a long period of time, the person may experience malnutrition and weight loss as a result of not swallowing adequate amounts of food and liquid.

To help diagnose a swallowing disorder, your ENT doctor may insert a flexible laryngoscope through the nose and into the throat to watch as you swallow bits of food. This procedure is called Fiber optic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES) or Flexible Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing with Sensory Testing (FEESST).

Many swallowing disorders can be treated with medication, such as muscle relaxants and antacids. Swallowing therapy may also help. In swallowing therapy, a speech pathologist teaches patients how to coordinate the swallowing muscles and stimulating the nerves that trigger the swallow reflex.

Surgery is also an option to treat a swallowing disorder if there is a narrow spot in the throat or esophagus. The process of expanding the throat or esophagus is called myotomy and would be performed by a head and neck surgeon.

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