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Dysphagia and Feeding Problems

Dysphasia is a term used to describe difficulty with swallowing.

The normal swallow is divided into several phases- the oral phase which involves using the lips, tongue, and the teeth to prepare food for the next phase which is the oral pharyngeal phase where the food is sent to the region in the back of the mouth. After the oral pharyngeal phase there is a pharyngeal phase and then esophageal phase. The last two phases are out of our control once they are initiated (that is they are involuntary).

If someone has weak chewing muscles (muscles of mastication) or a weak tongue which is not able to propel the food to the back of the mouth- a neurological dysfunction is suspected.

Gastro esophageal reflux or GERD can frequently can lead to swallowing difficulties. A trial of reflux medications is often prescribed. Esophageal dysmotility Or spasms can lead to difficulty with swallowing. A barium swallow study can be ordered to show if the esophagus is relaxing and contracting properly and or if there any esophageal mass.

Esophageal dysmotility can lead to swallowing problems as can a mass obstructing the lumen or the inside of the esophagus. Often times patients are referred to the gastroenterology doctors to assist in the diagnosis and management.

If you’re having any swallowing difficulties please call our office for an appointment.