What is the Cause of Difficulty Swallowing?
Difficulty swallowing is called Dysphagia. The problem of moving food from the throat to the stomach may occur in different muscles, nerves, or parts of your body.
What are the signs and symptoms of difficulty swallowing?
Signs and Symptoms include: Difficulty chewing or biting food, trouble controlling saliva in your mouth, coughing when you eat or drink, feeling as if food is getting stuck, pain while eating certain foods, vomiting food back up after you have swallowed it. You may also notice that you are losing weight without trying because you can’t eat enough to maintain a healthy weight.
Nausea could be associated with another health condition so consultation with a doctor would be necessary for confirmation. However, there are lots of natural remedies for nausea, so you can try out some of them if you experience it.
losing the ability to swallow:
-Food, saliva, or liquids go into the airway instead of staying in the esophagus (food pipe), where they belong.
swollowing exercises and food consistency changes. Coffee, tea, cola drinks can irritate existing reflux oesophagitis (acid indigestion). Prolonged acid contact with the lining of the esophagus can cause heartburn and eventually oesophageal cancer.
Smoking increases acid production in your stomach, which can make reflux worse. Overeating also causes extra pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) – a valve that allows food to pass from your throat to your stomach but does not allow stomach contents to flow up into the esophagus.
If you have non-operative treatment for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), you may see your physician regularly to make sure that your condition does not get worse. Medications are available in several forms, including liquids, pastes, tablets, and capsules.
Your physician will probably prescribe one or more medications to control your symptoms of GERD. You may also be required to follow a special diet in order to minimize the chances that the acid from your stomach will back up through the esophagus and irritate it over time. Here are some examples of common lifestyle modifications:
Avoid eating large meals. Instead, eat 4-5 small meals throughout the day so there is not a lot of food in the stomach at any one time.
Eat lean, non-fatty meats and fish instead of beef or pork.
Reduce the total amount of fat consumed each day to no more than 20-30 grams (about 2 tablespoons). Avoid fried foods and high-fat snacks between meals.
Avoid eating late at night before going to bed so acid is less likely to get into your esophagus when you are lying down. Avoid drinking liquids with your meal so that there will be less liquid to reflux up into your esophagus.
Do not smoke or use tobacco products because smoking can cause acid reflux, worsen symptoms, and slow healing if you already have oesophagitis (inflammation of the esophagus).
Dysphagia home treatment:
1. Ensure you are in a semi-upright position when eating to minimize reflux of stomach acid into the esophagus. Avoid bending over to pick up your food, especially if you have had spinal cord injury or neck surgery that has left you with decreased feeling in your abdomen and legs.
2. Sit at the head of the table, not at the middle (where people reach for food) or end (closest to the kitchen).
3. Prioritize protein-rich foods like meat, chicken, fish, and eggs during mealtime; vegetables should be limited due to their high carbohydrate content; starches should be avoided altogether; fruits should be eaten on an empty stomach (30 minutes before meals) because they are acidic and may irritate the esophagus or exacerbate reflux.
4. Liquids should be consumed with meals, not 10 minutes before or after a meal, to reduce the chance that they will mix with food and cause heartburn. Drinking while eating can also encourage you to eat too fast, which can lead to overeating and increased irritation of your stomach.
5. Follow prompts from your dietitian on how much protein/carbohydrate/fat you need for each meal depending on your nutritional goals!
6a. Exercise regularly – this helps regulate bowel function, strengthens abdominal muscles, and promotes more regular breathing patterns; it is one of the best ways to avoid getting into a vicious cycle of constipation-reflux-constipation.
6b. Avoid over-the-counter medications, such as antihistamines and sleep aids, that may cause relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), allowing acid to reflux into the esophagus more easily.
7a. Keep a symptom diary recording when you have symptoms of heartburn or regurgitation, what you were eating/drinking at the time, how severe they were on a scale from 1-10 and whether there was any associated pain in your chest or abdomen.
7b. Take a look at our Diet & Nutrition page for more ideas on things you can try out to help reduce some of your symptoms!
8a. We recommend bringing all current medications (prescribed and over-the-counter) to every appointment with you so your health care team can monitor for the effectiveness of each medication, possible interactions, or side effects.
is difficulty swallowing a sign of cancer:
Dysphagia, or the feeling of food getting stuck in your throat, can happen to anyone regardless of age and health status. Dysphagia is a common symptom that may be experienced by patients diagnosed with cancer. It may arise as a result of other symptoms such as pain or lifestyle issues, such as diet changes that are related to chemotherapy.
Having dysphagia does not mean that you have cancer – it simply means that something has changed so your body cannot swallow properly anymore. If you experience any change in swallowing function – trouble swallowing solid foods and/or liquids and/or mucous – we recommend visiting your doctor or medical specialist for diagnosis and treatment options available to you.
What causes dysphagia?
There are many causes of dysphagia, and most can be treated by a medical team specialized in treating cancer patients. Some examples include:
– Esophageal cancer
– Cancer or treatment that has caused inflammation in the esophagus.
– Tumours that have developed from the lung then block the larynx (voice box), trachea (windpipe), or voice tube – a small passage connecting the throat to the lungs.
If dysphagia persists longer than three weeks after starting treatment for your condition, please seek advice from your doctor or specialist immediately. If you experience difficulty swallowing, please do not ignore it. It is important that you get checked by your doctor as soon as possible to ensure you can access the best course of treatment for your condition.