What Causes Dysphagia?
Updated: May 10
Dysphagia is usually caused by another health condition.
Some of these include:
•Gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD). Those with GERD often have stomach acid being released into the esophagus.
•Immune system problems that result in swelling/inflammation.
•Certain types of cancer, such as mouth or esophageal cancer.
•Esophageal spasm. This happens when the muscles of the esophagus suddenly squeeze.
•A condition that affects the nervous system. Some examples include a stroke, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, or a head/spinal cord injury.
•Certain learning or developmental disabilities in children can also bring on dysphagia.
What is high dysphagia and low dysphagia. What is the difference?
High dysphagia is a result of problems with the mouth and throat. It’s also known as oropharyngeal dysphagia.
Low dysphagia, or esophageal dysphagia, results from problems with the esophagus, which is the tube that carries food to your stomach from your mouth. There are three areas in the esophagus (upper, middle, and lower) where dysphagia can occur.
Symptoms and complications of dysphagia
•Weight loss and reoccurring chest infections.
•Heartburn and pain or pressure in the chest.
•Pain can arise when a person swallows.
•Dysphagia can sometimes lead to further problems. For example, when food goes down the “wrong way,” causing a blockage in your airway, you may cough and choke. This can lead to chest infections. One example is aspiration pneumonia, which requires immediate medical treatment. Aspiration pneumonia commonly develops after accidentally inhaling something like a small piece of food.
•Dysphagia can result in a person avoiding eating and drinking. This can be due to a fear of choking. This can also be the result of mealtime seeming like a chore. Avoidance of food and liquids can lead to weight loss, malnutrition, and dehydration.
•Dysphagia can also affect a person’s quality of life. Many people find that they no longer enjoy meals and avoid social occasions as a result of dysphagia.
•A dry mouth can make dysphagia more troublesome. A person needs saliva to move food through the esophagus.
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