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Swallowing Disorders

West Shore ENT & Allergy

Otolaryngology & Allergy Specialists located in Norton Shores, Muskegon, Grand Haven, Fremont, & Ludington, MI

Anyone who has ever struggled to swallow a large tablet or had something stuck in their throat understands the discomfort of a swallowing disorder. The doctors at West Shore ENT & Allergy have extensive experience identifying the cause of swallowing disorders and then they work closely with you to find the right treatment. If you need help with a swallowing disorder, call one of the offices in Norton Shores, Grand Haven, Fremont, Ludington, and Muskegon, Michigan, or schedule an appointment online today.

Swallowing Disorders Q & A

What is a swallowing disorder?

Dysphagia — difficulty swallowing — happens when you have to struggle to make foods and liquids go down your throat. Swallowing is more complex than you realize. It depends on many muscle movements that you can’t control.

At the back of your throat, a round muscle called a sphincter opens to let food enter the esophagus. Smooth muscles push food down the esophagus, then another sphincter opens so food can get into the stomach. If any of the muscles don’t work properly, you’ll have trouble swallowing.

What symptoms develop due to a swallowing disorder?

Having trouble swallowing or experiencing pain when you swallow are the top symptoms. You might also:

  • Develop voice changes
  • Regurgitate your food
  • Experience frequent heartburn
  • Gag when you swallow

Feeling like food is stuck in your throat is another symptom of a swallowing disorder.

Schedule an appointment at West Shore ENT & Allergy at the first sign of a swallowing problem to prevent complications like nutritional deficiencies or unwanted weight loss.

What causes swallowing disorders?

Ongoing swallowing problems are typically caused by an underlying health condition like:

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Narrowed or blocked esophagus
  • Paralyzed vocal cords
  • Nerve damage
  • Thyroid nodules
  • Cancers

Swallowing problems often develop after a stroke. They can also arise due to poor-fitting dentures.

How are swallowing disorders treated?

After doing an exam and swallowing tests, your doctor at West Shore ENT & Allergy develops your individualized treatment based on the cause and severity of your swallowing disorder.

Your treatment includes two components: targeting any underlying health conditions contributing to your swallowing problem and therapies that directly improve your ability to swallow.

The possible treatments to improve swallowing range from dietary changes like eating smaller pieces of food to minimally invasive surgery to repair muscles or treat a narrowed esophagus.

Your doctor at West Shore ENT & Allergy can recommend swallowing rehab, a treatment that’s done with a speech pathologist. During rehab, you’ll learn tips to help you swallow and exercises to strengthen and coordinate the muscles used during swallowing.

If you develop a swallowing problem, call West Shore ENT & Allergy or schedule an appointment online.