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Find a Cary Hospital Gastroenterologist
Dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life.
WakeMed’s gastroenterologists can help patients determine what’s causing them to have problems with swallowing—whether it’s due to issues in the esophagus or neurological conditions that are impacting the way the muscles are supposed to work.
Dysphagia is more common in older adults (due to the natural progressive wear and tear on the esophagus), but can occur at any age. Symptoms include:
Swallowing disorders usually fall into two categories:
Occasional difficulty swallowing generally isn’t a cause for concern, but if it’s persistent, it’s time to see a doctor. Untreated, it can lead to weight loss, choking and pneumonia.
If you feel like you can’t breathe because of an obstruction, go to the nearest emergency department.
When evaluating patients for swallowing disorders, our gastroenterologists start by taking a detailed patient history and a review of symptoms. Tests we may use to diagnose dysphagia can include:
Treatment varies depending on the type of dysphagia.
In oropharyngeal dysphagia, speech and swallowing therapy is generally the recommended treatment. Therapists can help patients with exercises to help them better coordinate their muscles, and learn how to place food and position their bodies for better swallowing.
In esophageal dysphagia, medical treatments may include:
Eating food slowly and in small bites can also help both types of dysphagia, as well as making sure you’re sitting upright while eating and for fifteen minutes afterwards. In extreme cases, liquid diets or feeding tubes may be used.
If you or someone you care about is having persistent difficulty swallowing, we encourage you to make an appointment with one of WakeMed Cary Hospital's experienced gastroenterologists.
3000 New Bern Ave.
Raleigh, NC 27610