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What is Dysphagia?

Dysphagia is the technical term used for swallowing disorders. That is, people with dysphagia have difficulty swallowing. These difficulties may include, but are not limited to:

  • Difficulty with chewing foods
  • Changes in laryngeal sensation that may be related to acid reflux and other factors
  • Difficulty getting the food or drink down to the stomach
  • Coughing and choking while eating or drinking
  • Food or liquid coming out of the nose
  • Pain on swallowing 
  • Difficulty keeping food or liquid in the mouth
  • Difficulty with getting enough nutrition from eating that can result in weakness and other problems
  • Aspiration of food or liquid
  • Sensation of a "lump" in the throat

There are many causes of dysphagia. People with many different kinds of illnesses may develop dysphagia. Illnesses that are often related to dysphagia include strokes, progressive neurological disorders (like Parkinson's Disease or multiple sclerosis), brain tumors, head and neck cancers, and reflux. Individuals who have had head injuries may have dysphagia. Some elderly people may also develop dysphagia. Some infants may be born with disorders that can be associated with dysphagia, including cleft palate, Down Syndrome and cerebral palsy.

Aspiration has been associated with the development of some types of pneumonia. If your oral secretions contain too much gram-negative bacteria (GNB), then aspiration of these might result in additional problems including pneumonia. GNB may sometimes develop in the mouth if you use a feeding tube, if you take antibiotics, if you have oral/dental disease, if you have cavities that have not been treated, if you suffer from malnutrition, or if you don't clear your saliva regularly. 

I have been having trouble swallowing

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Grabscheid Voice and Swallowing Center of Mount SinaiTel: (212) 979-4119

Address310 E. 14th Street
North Building, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10003

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