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Dysphagia is the medical term for difficulty swallowing, or the feeling that food is "sticking" in your throat or chest. The feeling is actually in your esophagus, the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach. You may experience dysphagia when swallowing solid foods, liquids, or both. Oropharyngeal dysphagia involves difficulty moving food from your mouth into your upper esophagus. Esophageal dysphagia involves difficulty moving food through your esophagus to your stomach. Dysphagia can affect you at any age, although the likelihood increases as you grow older.
Signs and Symptoms
The following are symptoms of oropharyngeal dysphagia.
The following are symptoms of esophageal dysphagia.
What Causes It?
Dysphagia in children is often due to malformations, conditions such as cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Dysphagia in adults is often due to tumors (benign or cancerous), conditions that cause the esophagus to narrow, neuromuscular conditions, or GERD. Other causes include smoking, excessive alcohol use, certain medications, and teeth or dentures in poor condition.
What to Expect at Your Provider's Office
Your health care provider may ask about your symptoms and eating habits. For infants and children, the health care provider may want to observe them eating. Your provider may also listen to your heart, take your pulse, and will want to know your medical history.
A variety of tests can be used for dysphagia.
You can treat your dysphagia at home with drugs if you are able to eat enough and have no serious complications. If your condition becomes more serious, you may have an esophageal dilation. This is a procedure that makes your esophagus wider. If your esophagus is severely blocked, you may need to be hospitalized or have surgery. Hospitalization is often necessary for infants and children.
Drugs for spasms:
Drugs to reduce inflammation of the esophagus:
Over the Counter
Complementary and Alternative Therapies
Herbs can be effective at decreasing spasms and healing an inflamed esophagus. Homeopathic remedies may be used at the same time.
Herbs may be used as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts).
In addition, a combination of four of the following herbs may be used as either a tea or tincture. Use equal parts of the herbs, either 1 tsp. of each per cup of water and steep 10 minutes three times a day, or equal parts of tincture 30 to 60 drops three times a day.
Some of the most common remedies used for dysphagia are listed below. Usually, the dose is 12X to 30C every one to four hours until your symptoms get better.
Dysphagia should not limit your activities, but your health care provider may restrict your diet.
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