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A swallowing disorder, or dysphagia, causes you to have trouble or pain when swallowing. This makes it hard to eat, and for some people it can make it hard to take in enough calories and fluid to stay nourished.
Your doctor may work with a speech-language pathologist to assess your trouble swallowing. Tests may include a fiber-optic laryngoscopy, which lets a doctor look inside your throat using a lighted tube. Ultrasound imaging may also be used.
Medicines can help some people. In other cases, surgery is necessary. Other treatments include:
- Changing your diet by adding thickeners
- Learning new ways to eat and chew
- Botulinum toxin (botox) injections
If treating the underlying cause or illness does not correct the swallowing disorder, medicines can be prescribed. When medicines don't work, surgery may be necessary. Therapy with a speech-language pathologist is often recommended.
A person with severe or complicated swallowing problems may need to have a feeding tube inserted. If you have a condition that may lead to dysphagia, talk with your loved ones and your doctor about your wishes concerning feeding tubes and other forms of life support while you are still healthy enough to make informed decisions.