Difficulty In Swallowing Specialist

Hagerstown Gastroenterology

Chintamaneni P Choudari, M.D.

Gastroenterology Practice & Gastroenterology and Endoscopy located in Robinwood Professional Center, Hagerstown, MD

Difficulty in swallowing may result from a number of causes and affect your nutritional health, as well as increase your risk of developing other health complications, such as aspiration pneumonia. At Hagerstown Gastroenterology, board-certified gastroenterologist Chintamaneni Choudari, MD, offers state-of-the-art diagnostic tools and treatments for difficulty in swallowing to improve symptoms and prevent health complications. To schedule an evaluation, call the office in Hagerstown, Maryland, or request an appointment through the online tool.

Difficulty in Swallowing Q & A

What is difficulty in swallowing?

Difficulty in swallowing, medically called dysphagia, means you’re having trouble initiating your swallow (oropharyngeal dysphagia) or feeling as though you have food stuck in your throat or chest (esophageal dysphagia). The type of dysphagia you have may affect your symptoms, testing, and treatment.

Oropharyngeal dysphagia

You may develop oropharyngeal dysphagia if the nerves or muscles in your mouth or pharynx (back of your throat) or your esophageal sphincter are malfunctioning. 

Esophageal dysphagia

Esophageal dysphagia may develop from diseases that affect your esophagus, such as narrowing or inflammation caused by acid reflux. 

Barrett’s esophagus can also lead to difficulty in swallowing. With this condition, the tissue that normally lines your esophagus is replaced with tissue that more closely resembles the tissue that lines your intestinal tract. 

You may be at risk of developing Barrett’s esophagus if you suffer from chronic acid reflux, commonly referred to as gastroesophageal disease (GERD). 

What are symptoms of difficulty in swallowing?

Your difficulty in swallowing symptoms may vary depending on the type of dysphagia you have. Common symptoms include:

  • Difficulty swallowing your food after chewing
  • Feeling as though food is stuck in your throat
  • Hoarseness
  • Regurgitation
  • Heartburn
  • Drooling
  • Coughing or gagging
  • Unexpected weight loss

Your difficulty in swallowing may also lead to aspiration pneumonia, which may cause symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing, or fever.

What happens during a difficulty in swallowing evaluation?

The specifics of your difficulty in swallowing evaluation may depend on the type of dysphagia you have. During your exam, Dr. Choudari asks detailed questions about your symptoms and medical history so he can better understand your swallowing issues. 

He then performs a physical exam and orders diagnostic tests such as:

  • Barium swallow
  • Esophagram
  • Endoscopy
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • Blood test

Dr. Choudari uses the information gathered during your evaluation to determine the underlying cause of your dysphagia so he can develop the most effective treatment plan. 

How is difficulty in swallowing treated?

Treatment for your difficulty in swallowing is individualized based on the type of dysphagia you have and the underlying cause. Treatment may include:

  • Medication to manage acid reflux
  • Esophageal dilation
  • Referral to speech therapy

For Barrett’s esophagus, Dr. Choudari may recommend routine follow-up care to monitor your esophageal tissue and remove any abnormal tissue as needed.

Difficulty in swallowing may develop from a number of causes and increase your risk of more serious health complications. To schedule an evaluation, contact Hagerstown Gastroenterology by phone or book online today.