Swallowing Disorders: Causes, Complications and Treatments.
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Voice by: Sue Stern
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All images/videos by Alila Medical Media are for information purposes ONLY and are NOT intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Dysphagia refers to a group of conditions characterized by difficulty swallowing. There are two main classes of problems that can lead to swallowing disorders:
 Neuromuscular problems: 
- Muscular disorders that affect skeletal muscles, such as muscular dystrophy,  or myasthenia gravis... 
- Diseases of the nervous system that compromise the way the brain controls the swallowing reflex, such as stroke, Parkinson's disease, or multiple sclerosis... 
- Weakened muscles and/or impaired coordination as a result of aging. 
This class commonly affects the first two phases of swallowing.
Narrowing of the throat or esophagus due to throat cancer, esophageal cancer and formation of small sacs or rings in the walls of the esophagus.  Gastroesophageal reflux disease – GERD - is also a common cause. In GERD, scars resulting from stomach acid injuries may obstruct the esophagus and cause difficulty swallowing. 
This class mostly affects the third phase of swallowing.
For people with dysphagia, eating becomes a challenge. The consequences may be serious. Someone who cannot swallow safely is at high risk of choking, pulmonary aspiration and may not be able to eat enough to stay healthy.
Treatment depends on the cause of the condition:
- Muscle strength and coordination exercises may be recommended for some.
- A change in the position of the head and neck when eating could be beneficial to others.
- Right choice of food and drink is important for most. Soft textured food and thickened drinks are recommended for safe swallowing. 
- Surgery may be needed to remove narrowed parts of the esophagus. 
- Finally, patients with severe dysphagia and recurrent aspiration may have to resort to tube feeding to get nutrition to the body. 


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