What is Dysphagia, and What Are the Possible Causes of a Swallowing Difficulty?

The inability to swallow foods or liquids with ease is known as dysphagia. There are about 50 pairs of nerves and muscles involved in the swallowing process and four phases of swallowing, which make it challenging to determine the possible causes of swallowing difficulty without administering a Modified Barium Swallowing Test.

The four phases of swallowing can be broken down into two categories: oropharyngeal (which includes the oral preparatory, oral, and pharyngeal phases), and esophageal.

Oropharyngeal Dysphagia 

The most common causes of oropharyngeal dysphagia are disorders of the nerves and muscles in the throat, which weaken the muscles. Someone with oropharyngeal dysphagia will likely experience choking or gagging sensations when they try to swallow.

There are several conditions that may cause these symptoms, including nerve damage from surgery or radiation therapy, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and Post-polio syndrome. However, this swallowing difficulty has been known to originate from obstructions in the pharynx or upper throat as well, which is what an MBS test can help determine.

Esophageal Dysphagia

With esophageal dysphagia, the sensation experienced is having something stuck in the throat. The condition can be caused by muscle spasms in the lower esophagus and may be exacerbated by the inability of the esophageal sphincter to relax.

Intermittent narrowing of the esophageal ring may result in tightness in the lower esophagus that produces the sensation, although the narrowing can also occur as a result of scarring (from chronic radiation or post-radiation treatment), inflammation, or GERD.

Our team at TwinCity Medical Mobile offers convenient consultations across the Piedmont area in North Carolina. Our state-of-the-art medical mobile van is equipped with all the necessary equipment and technology to test patients located in assisted living centers, nursing homes, and other locations.