Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) means it takes more time and effort to move food or liquid from your mouth to your stomach. Dysphagia may also be associated with pain. In some cases, swallowing may be impossible.
Occasional difficulty swallowing, which may occur when you eat too fast or don't chew your food well enough, usually isn't cause for concern. But persistent dysphagia may indicate a serious medical condition requiring treatment.
Dysphagia can occur at any age, but it's more common in older adults. The causes of swallowing problems vary, and treatment depends on the cause.
Signs and symptoms associated with dysphagia may include:
Swallowing is complex, and a number of conditions can interfere with this process. Sometimes the cause of dysphagia can't be identified. However, dysphagia generally falls into one of the following categories.
Esophageal dysphagia refers to the sensation of food sticking or getting hung up in the base of your throat or in your chest after you've started to swallow. Some of the causes of esophageal dysphagia include:
Certain conditions can weaken your throat muscles, making it difficult to move food from your mouth into your throat and esophagus when you start to swallow. You may choke, gag or cough when you try to swallow or have the sensation of food or fluids going down your windpipe (trachea) or up your nose. This may lead to pneumonia.
Causes of oropharyngeal dysphagia include:
The following are risk factors for dysphagia:
Difficulty swallowing can lead to:
Lachesis and Hyoscyamus are effective medicines for dysphagia. They are effective when dysphagia for liquids is present. Lachesis is used when the patient has difficulty in swallowing liquids or even saliva. Pain and swelling in the throat are also present. There is choking when drinking liquids. Hyoscyamus is useful when there is a constricted sensation in the throat along with an inability to swallow liquids. Fluids may go the wrong way down the larynx. Other symptoms include a burning sensation and shooting pain in the throat.
Kali Carb works when there is difficulty in swallowing solids along with gagging and vomiting. Kali Carb may also work well in cases of dysphagia from the stricture of the esophagus. In such patients, food may also go into the windpipe. Alumina works well when swallowing of solid food is difficult, painful and there is extreme dryness in the throat. The throat feels plugged. A patient needing Alumina can consume warm drinks with ease.
Baptisia and Baryta Carb are some of the best medicines for dysphagia. They are helpful in cases where a person can only consume liquids, and there is gagging at the introduction of solid food. A patient needing Baptisia cannot swallow any solid food because of a constrictive feeling in the throat. Consuming only liquids is easy. Constriction at the cardiac end of the esophagus may also be present. Baryta Carb helps in cases when the patient consumes only liquids. Not even a slight amount of solid seems to move down the esophagus. Stinging and burning in the throat may also be present. Empty swallowing leads to a smarting pain in the throat.
Belladonna and Cactus are both significant treatment for dysphagia where the patient has to drink water to help swallow food. Belladonna works well when a person having dysphagia has to drink water to help swallow food. There is also a tendency to choke easily while swallowing. The food may go down the wrong way.
Belladonna is a medicine for painless dysphagia. Cactus is highly indicated when a person has to drink a lot of water to make the food move down the esophagus. Heat and constriction in the throat may also be the symptoms indicating the use of the Homeopathic medicine Cactus. A feeling of suffocation may also arise from constriction in the throat.
Medicines that are most suitable for dysphagia with choking while swallowing are Anacardium and Hyoscyamus. The characteristic feature to use Anacardium is easy choking while eating or drinking anything. Scraping and rawness in the throat are also important symptoms for selecting this remedy. Hyoscyamus is effective when there is choking while drinking liquids as the liquid goes down the larynx instead of the esophagus. The fluid may also regurgitate and come out through the nose in some cases.