Dysphagia - causes & treatment

Dysphagia is a problem with swallowing in which food must be moved from the mouth to the stomach with more effort than usual. Read on to view the full details..

Dr. Samrat Jankar Created on 21st Jun, 21

Dysphagia is a problem with swallowing in which food must be moved from the mouth to the stomach with more effort than usual. It is a painful condition caused by nerve or muscle issues that is more frequent in older individuals and new-borns.

Although the medical word "dysphagia" is frequently used to describe a symptom or sign, it is also used to indicate a separate disease. A variety of factors can cause dysphagia. If it occurs just once or twice, there is no chance of any underlying problem. However, you should visit a doctor if you experience the symptoms of the disease frequently.


In that case, if you are residing in Pune or surrounding areas, then you can book your appointment with Dr. Samrat Jankar, the best gastroenterologist in Pune. Dr. Jankar is a highly experienced gastroenterologist who has successfully treated many cases of dysphagia.


In this article, we'll discuss the causes as well as treatment options for dysphagia.


What exactly is dysphagia?

Dysphagia is a term that describes trouble swallowing. It means that delivering food or fluids from your mouth to your stomach takes more work and time. It can cause you to experience pain when eating. Swallowing may be impossible in a variety of circumstances.


Dysphagia that persists, on the other hand, could be a sign of a serious medical problem that requires prompt treatment.


Dysphagia can affect anyone at any age, but it is more common among the elderly. Swallowing problems can be caused by a variety of factors, and treatment differs depending on the cause.


Now, let us discuss the causes of dysphagia:

A variety of factors can cause dysphagia, including:


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS): 

It is an incurable type of progressive neurodegeneration in which your neurons in the spine and brain lose functionality over time.



It is a condition in which your lower esophageal muscle does not relax sufficiently to enable food to pass into the stomach.


Diffuse spasm: 

It occurs when the esophageal muscles twitch in an uncoordinated manner.



When the blood supply to the brain is decreased, brain cells die due to a lack of oxygen. Dysphagia can result from damage to the brain cells that govern the swallowing process.


Esophagal ring malfunction: 

It narrows a tiny section of the esophagus that occasionally prevents solid meals from going through.


Eosinophilic esophagitis: 

It is a condition in which the number of eosinophils (a kind of white blood cell) in the esophagus is abnormally high. These abnormal eosinophils development leads to the problem with the gastrointestinal system, causing vomiting and swallowing difficulties.


Multiple sclerosis: 

It is a disease in which the immune system attacks the central nervous system, damaging the myelin that usually shields the neurons.



If you have had radiotherapy, the neck and head regions may have difficulty swallowing.



It is an uncommon autoimmune disorder characterized by tightening and hardening of the skin and connective tissues.



Esophageal cancer is generally caused by drinking and smoking or gastroesophageal reflux syndrome, leading to Disphygia.


Xerostomia (dry mouth): 

It is a condition in which there is insufficient saliva to keep the mouth moist. Now that we have discussed different causes of dysphagia let us have a close look at the treatments.


Available treatment options: 

Dysphagia treatment is determined by the kind or cause of your swallowing issue. Your doctor may send you to a speech or swallowing therapist for oropharyngeal dysphagia, and therapy may include:



Certain exercises can help you re-stimulate the nerves that activate the swallowing reflex or help you coordinate your swallowing muscles.


Learning how to swallow correctly: 

You could also learn how to correctly place food in your mouth or arrange your body and head to aid swallowing. You may be taught few exercises and new consuming methods to assist in dysphagia caused by neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's disease.


The following are some treatment options for esophageal dysphagia:

esophageal dysphagia

1 . Dilation of the esophagus: 

Your doctor may use an endoscope with a special balloon attached to stretch and extend the breadth of your esophagus gently. He can use a flexible tube or tubes to open the esophagus if you have a tight esophageal sphincter (achalasia) or an esophageal stricture (dilation).


2. Surgery: 

You may also require surgery to clear your esophagus route. It is beneficial if you have an esophageal tumor, achalasia, or a pharyngoesophageal diverticulum. Surgery may help to treat esophageal cancer. It can also ease swallowing complications due to throat constriction or obstructions, such as -

  • bony outgrowths
  • pharyngoesophageal diverticulum
  • vocal cord paralysis
  • GERD
  • achalasia

After the surgery, it will benefit you if you undergo swallow therapy and speech therapy.


3. Medications: 

GERD-related difficulty swallowing can be addressed with oral prescription medicines that decrease stomach acid. These drugs may need to be taken for a long time.


4. Diet: 

If swallowing problems prohibit you from eating and drinking enough, your doctor may suggest: 


A specific liquid diet. It may aid in the maintenance of a healthy weight and the avoidance of dehydration. You may require a feeding tube to bypass the section of your swallowing process that isn't operating adequately in severe cases of dysphagia.



Relevant Questions

Q. What are the symptoms of colon cancer?

Colon cancer is also known as colorectal cancer, a term that combines colon cancer with rectal cancer, which starts in the rectum. The following are some of the signs and symptoms of colon cancer:

  • A change in your bowel habits, such as diarrhoea or constipation, or a change in the consistency of your stool, that persists.
  • Blood in your stool or rectal bleeding.
  • Consistent stomach pain, such as cramps or gas.
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Weakness or exhaustion.
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Q. My grandfather was diagnosed with GERD, how can he be treated?

GERD is a digestive disorder that affects the ring of muscle between your oesophagus & your stomach. This can usually be controlled with medication. If you wish to avoid long-term medication then we recommend: Fundoplication. Plan a consultation with Dr Samrat Jankar, our expert gastroenterologist. He will provide the best possible & effective treatment for this. 

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Q. What is incarcerated hernia?

A section of the intestine or abdominal tissue that becomes trapped in the sac of a hernia—the bulge of soft tissue that pushes through a weak place in the abdominal wall—is known as an incarcerated hernia. Stool may not be able to pass through the intestine if a section of it is trapped.


Incarcerated inguinal hernias usually cause swelling in the groin region, and some may show redness. If bowel obstruction has occurred, some additional symptoms may include sudden onset of pain, lack of appetite, irritability, and nausea or vomiting.

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Q. What is colonoscopy and how does it help in treating colon cancer?

A colonoscopy is a procedure in which doctor examines the inside of your large intestine to seek for the cause of symptoms such as abdominal pain, rectal bleeding or changes in bowel habits.


To check the inside of the colon, doctor will insert a long, flexible tube with a camera on one end into the rectum. A particular diet may be required for 24-48 hours before to the surgery. In a process called as bowel prep, the colon will also need to be cleaned using strong laxatives.


If polyps are discovered in the colon, they will be removed by a surgeon and referred for biopsy. A pathologist examines the polyps under a microscope for malignant or precancerous cells during a biopsy.

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Q. Can i know about bariatric surgery and the criteria on meeting which i will qualify for this surgery?

To be eligible for bariatric surgery, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher, or have a BMI between 35 and 40.
  • An obesity-related condition, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or severe sleep apnea.
  • Weigh less than 450 pounds, the maximum weight that hospital radiology equipment can accommodate. If you need to lose weight to meet this requirement, a nutritionist is available to help.
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