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Difficulty In Swallowing

Northern Medical Group Gastroenterology Division


Sometimes, if you eat too quickly, you might have difficulty swallowing. However, chronic dysphagia can be a sign of another health problem and lead to dangerous complications. The board-certified gastroenterologists at Northern Medical Group Gastroenterology Division diagnose the causes of difficulty in swallowing and offer customized treatments. If you have problems swallowing, call or make an appointment online today at their office in Fishkill, Poughkeepsie, or Highland, New York.

Difficulty in Swallowing Q & A

Difficulty in Swallowing

What causes difficulty in swallowing?

Clinically referred to as dysphagia, difficulty in swallowing has many potential causes. Some of the common causes of dysphagia include:

  • Problems with the lower esophageal sphincter (achalasia)
  • Muscle spasm in the esophagus
  • An esophageal stricture
  • Tumor
  • Narrowing of the esophagus
  • Scarring in the lower esophageal sphincter

Conditions like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), food allergies, and neurological disorders can also cause difficulty in swallowing. 

When should I talk to a doctor about the difficulty in swallowing?

While you might have a temporary problem with swallowing if you eat too quickly, a physician should diagnose chronic problems swallowing. You should make an appointment with the team at Northern Medical Group Gastroenterology Division if your swallowing problems lead to weight loss or vomiting. 

Other signs of a problem include pain when swallowing, regurgitation, frequent heartburn, hoarseness, and coughing. You might feel like you have food stuck in your throat or gag when you try to swallow. 

How do you diagnose the cause of difficulty in swallowing?

In addition to a consultation and exam, the team at Northern Medical Group Gastroenterology Division offers esophageal motility testing. This 10-minute evaluation measures how well your esophageal muscles work, including pressure and motor function. 

While you recline in a comfortable chair, your doctor numbs your nose and throat. Then, they place a thin catheter through your nose and esophagus until it reaches your stomach. You can breathe, talk, and swallow normally while the catheter is in place. 

Your doctor asks you to take small sips of water. The catheter monitors your esophageal action and sends data to a computer in the treatment room. 

When the test is complete, your doctor carefully withdraws the catheter, and you can return to your regular activities. 

How is difficulty in swallowing treated?

The physicians provide personalized treatment to address the root cause of your difficulty in swallowing. Your treatment plan could include physiotherapy to coordinate your swallowing muscles or therapy to adjust how you cut food and place it in your mouth. 

In some cases, your doctor might recommend esophageal dilation or surgery to remove an obstruction. They can also prescribe medication or procedures to alleviate GERD. 

If you have problems swallowing that interfere with your health or quality of life, call Northern Medical Group Gastroenterology Division, or make an appointment online today.