Difficulty Swallowing Specialist

Capitol Gastro

Gastroenterologists located in Austin, TX and surrounding areas

When you try to eat, do you feel like food gets stuck in your throat, making it hard to swallow? Difficulty swallowing is known as dysphagia — and it doesn’t have to interfere with your life. The board-certified gastroenterologists at Capitol Gastro diagnose the cause of dysphagia, so you can get back to enjoying meals like you used to. Call one of the convenient locations in Austin, Cedar Park, Georgetown, and Dripping Springs, Texas.

Difficulty Swallowing Q & A

What is dysphagia?

Dysphagia is the medical term for difficulty swallowing. A digestive disorder, dysphagia gives you the sensation that food or liquids are getting stuck in your pharynx, the back of your throat. Difficulty swallowing is different than a lump in your throat (globus sensation), where you have no trouble swallowing, but feel like something is stuck in your throat.

Left untreated, difficulty swallowing can lead to malnourishment by making it difficult to eat. The condition may also cause you to inhale, or aspirate, food or liquids, which may lead to pneumonia or chronic lung disease.

There are two types of difficulty swallowing: oropharyngeal dysphagia and esophageal dysphagia. Oropharyngeal is related to issues with the nerves or muscles controlling your mouth, throat, and esophagus.

Esophageal dysphagia is associated with structural problems. These problems include tumors, a narrowing of your esophagus caused by scarring from acid reflux disease, inflammation of the lining of your esophagus, and similar issues.

When should I see a doctor for difficulty swallowing?

If you’re having trouble swallowing, but aren’t experiencing other problems, you should see the team at Capitol Gastro within a week or so for an evaluation. Other problems to look for include:

  • Symptoms of a physical blockage, such as the inability to swallow anything at all or drooling
  • Weight loss
  • Painful swallowing
  • A new problem with your spinal cord, brain function, or a nerve

If you choke or cough whenever you eat or drink, you should make an appointment with Capitol Gastro sooner rather than later.

How is difficulty swallowing diagnosed?

Your doctor begins by taking a detailed history of your condition to determine which form of dysphagia you may have. A close evaluation is usually all that’s needed for your doctor to pinpoint your type of dysphagia. They then perform a careful neurologic examination to identify which nerves and muscles might be causing your difficulty swallowing.

In some cases, your doctor recommends diagnostic tests. These tests and assessments include:

  • Swallowing test
  • Endoscopy
  • Blood test

They also may evaluate you by asking you to swallow a fluorescent substance, followed by an X-ray to assess your throat and digestive tract.

How is difficulty swallowing treated?

Your doctor at Capitol Gastro tailors your treatment to the reason for your difficulty swallowing. You might need to modify your diet. Certain head and neck positions may help minimize your symptoms. If your condition is due to an underlying condition, your doctor recommends a treatment plan to set you on the path to recovery.

If difficulty swallowing is interfering with your well-being, call Capitol Gastro today.