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Birmingham, AL | ENT Specialists
A man eating a plate of food experiences trouble swallowing.

Why Do I Have Swallowing Problems?

According to research done on a National Health Interview Survey, 1 in 25 adults will experience a swallowing problem every year. If you’re one of those 25, then you know how often it can affect your day-to-day activities, but the experts at Excel ENT want to emphasize that this problem is more than a nuisance. It’s a serious health concern that can lead to advanced complications and greater problems. Uncover the solutions to your swallowing problems today when you visit Excel ENT for diagnosis and support. 

Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment of Dysphagia

Difficulty swallowing, known as dysphagia, is debilitating and requires immediate treatment. Even something as simple as regularly coughing while eating and drinking can be a serious thing that should be checked by a doctor. If it’s happening frequently, it could be a sign that things are getting into your lungs, and you may come down with pneumonia.

Early detection and intervention are vital to improve outcomes and deter complications from developing. Here’s what you need to know: 

Common Symptoms of Dysphagia

  • Throat Pain: Discomfort or pain in the throat can occur, especially when swallowing. This pain can range from mild irritation to severe discomfort.
  • Sensation of Food Being Stuck in the Throat or Chest: This can happen with solid foods, liquids, or both, and it is a common symptom that can lead to coughing or choking during eating.
  • Drooling: If you’re having trouble swallowing, your saliva may not have a place to go except outside your mouth. 
  • Ineffective chewing: This can include pieces of food not substantially decreasing in size and liquid or food remaining in the oral cavity after the swallow.
  • Changes in Vocal Quality: If your voice sounds wet, gaspy, or thick during a meal or after eating or drinking. 

There are many other symptoms to be aware of, and if you have any concerns related to those listed here, don’t hesitate to reach out to the professional team at Excel ENT for assistance. 

Potential Causes of Dysphagia

Difficulty swallowing can be a distressing and uncomfortable condition, affecting daily life and nutrition. At Excel ENT of Birmingham, AL, we specialize in diagnosing and treating various swallowing disorders, including dysphagia, throat pain, and throat irritation. Some potential causes include: 

  • GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease): This condition, where stomach acid backs up into the esophagus, can lead to inflammation and scarring, making swallowing difficult.
  • Esophageal Spasms: These are involuntary contractions of the muscles in the esophagus, which can disrupt the normal movement of food to the stomach.
  • Neurological Disorders: Conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or a stroke can affect the nerves controlling the swallowing muscles.
  • Structural Problems: These can include strictures (narrowing of the esophagus), diverticula (small pouches in the esophagus), or tumors.

Our expert team at Excel ENT uses advanced diagnostic tools like endoscopy to identify or eliminate potential causes of your swallowing problems. We offer personalized treatment plans, including swallowing therapy, to address your specific needs. Contact us to schedule an evaluation and find relief.

Treatments for Dysphagia

Diagnostic Approaches

At Excel ENT, we’re equipped to analyze and diagnose many swallowing disorders for treatment and refer you out for others. We start with smart, conservative measures that pick up on or rule out simpler problems before putting you through any complex, stressful, or expensive procedures. 

Our careful steps ensure we don’t miss anything and create better long-term outcomes for your care. Some of our diagnostic approaches are as follows: 

  • Comprehensive Evaluation: This includes a detailed medical history review and a physical examination.
  • Endoscopy: A procedure where a very small, flexible tube with a camera (endoscope) is used to view the throat and identify any structural problems.
  • Swallowing Studies: We primarily use the Flexible Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES) but some swallowing studies may call for a special type of X-ray to assess the swallowing process.

Treatment Options:

Our in-house speech pathologist, Amy, will work with you to determine proper treatment methods based on your evaluation and individualized needs. 

  • Swallowing Therapy: This includes exercises and strategies to improve swallowing—training or re-training your body to do what it needs to do.
  • Dietary Modifications: This includes altering the consistency of foods and liquids to make them safer and easier to swallow, as well as dietary advice to avoid foods that may exacerbate symptoms.
  • Habit Modifications: Learning to eat or drink in a special way can also make it easier to do these activities and reduce discomfort, the risk of choking, or the development of complications. 

These treatments are designed to improve safety during swallowing and circumvent issues to prevent complications from developing. It’s important for patients with signs of dysphagia to seek medical attention for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan, which is why we offer additional strategies and external referrals as needed. 

Expert Care for Swallowing Disorders at Excel ENT

At Excel ENT of Birmingham, AL, our commitment is to provide compassionate, effective care for those suffering from dysphagia. Our team of specialists is equipped with the knowledge and technology to offer the best possible treatment for your swallowing problems.

Want to Find Solutions for Your Swallowing Problems? 

If you’re experiencing difficulty with swallowing, don’t wait for it to worsen. Book an appointment with Excel ENT today. Let us help you navigate your symptoms and embark on a path to better health and comfort. Call us at (205) 988-6858 or contact us online today to get started.

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