Difficulty swallowing, medically referred to as dysphagia, can develop from many causes and lead to health complications such as malnutrition or aspiration pneumonia. Understanding the cause of your dysphagia can help you get the most effective treatment and reduce the risk of any related complications. At Gastroenterology Associates of Central Georgia, the experienced team uses advanced diagnostic tools at their swallowing specialty center to determine the cause of your dysphagia, so you get the best possible treatment. For an evaluation, call the office in Macon, Georgia.
Dysphagia describes issues affecting your ability to swallow. The problem may occur at the initiation of your swallow, referred to as oropharyngeal dysphagia, or it may feel as though you have food stuck in your throat, referred to as esophageal dysphagia.
Dysphagia may develop due to a neuromuscular or structural issue in your mouth, back of your throat, or esophagus. Common causes include:
Achalasia can also lead to dysphagia, specifically esophageal dysphagia. With achalasia, your lower esophageal sphincter (LES) doesn’t relax to allow food to enter your stomach.
You can expect a comprehensive evaluation at the swallowing specialty center when you come in to see the experts at Gastroenterology Associates of Central Georgia for dysphagia. The team first reviews your symptoms and medical history to determine whether you’re suffering from oropharyngeal or esophageal dysphagia.
After determining the type of dysphagia you have, the team may recommend diagnostic tests to further evaluate the structures and function of your mouth, throat, and esophagus. Tests may include:
During your videofluoroscopy test, a video X-ray is taken while you swallow different types of food to assess your swallowing function.
During your endoscopy, a small tube equipped with a light and video camera is inserted into your mouth and down into your esophagus and stomach to evaluate the structures.
If tumors are suspected, an MRI or a CT scan may be recommended.
The team at Gastroenterology Associates of Central Georgia directs treatment of your dysphagia, depending on the underlying cause. For most cases of dysphagia, diet modification may be needed to make swallowing and eating easier for you while you’re receiving targeted treatment for the cause of your swallowing difficulties.
Treatment may include disease-specific medication or procedures to improve the underlying cause. For example, if your dysphagia is due to esophageal strictures, the team may suggest dilation to widen your esophagus and improve your swallow. For achalasia, the team may recommend surgery or Botox® injections to help relax your LES and improve swallowing.
To schedule an evaluation for your dysphagia, contact Gastroenterology Associates of Central Georgia by phone today.