Difficulty swallowing can occur at any age. The term dysphagia refers to difficulty passing food or liquid from the mouth to the stomach. This may be caused by a variety of factors, some of which are highlighted below.
Gastroesophageal reflux: Reflux occurs when acid from the stomach lining travels up the esophagus and irritates the throat. Classic heartburn may be felt in the chest or lower neck. The patient may have a sensation of “lump in the throat”, mucus sticking in the throat, or an excessive desire to clear the throat.
Stroke or progressive neurologic disorder: Dysphagia in this group of patients is common since the complex coordination of muscles involved in swallowing may be affected. Vocal cord paralysis from nerve injury may lead to cough and aspiration of food into the lungs.
Throat infection: Tonsillitis, laryngitis, or any beacterial throat infection is included.
Tumor in the mouth, throat, larynx, or esophagus may occur secondary to smoking and/or alcoholism.
As a result of their specialized training and vast clinical experience, Drs. Kanhaiyalal, Sanjay, and Manoj Kantu are experts in the proper evaluation and treatment of dysphagia and hoarseness. They carefully elicit a full history of the problem before conducting a complete head and neck examination. A flexible laryngoscope may be utilized in order to fully examine the throat and larynx. If necessary, a direct examination of the esophagus with a small flexible scope is performed with minimal patient discomfort. Dr. Kantu may recommend X-rays of the swallowing mechanism, called a barium swallow, which is done by a radiologist. He may also request the consultation of a speech and swallowing therapist for diagnostic and/or therapeutic purposes.