When we swallow liquids and food pass to the back of the throat and down the esophagus which is the tube that connects our throat to our stomach. When we have difficulties swallowing, like choking on our food or liquids, or if it ”sticks” in the back of the throat, this is called dysphagia. This can be due to neurological problems such as stroke, or paralyzed or poorly moving vocal cords, or diseases such as Parkinson’s, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis and others. Inflammatory and infectious problems (eg. acid reflux disease, fungus infections, allergies ), anatomical problems (eg. scarring or stenosis, hernias or diverticulae), poor lubrication (eg. lack of saliva seen in a disease called Sjogren’s Syndrome) or even tumors or cancers in the mouth, throat, larynx or esophagus.
If symptoms persist a thorough exam of the head and neck should be done. Other tests may need to be performed including exam of the voice box with a fiberoptic scope in the office. At times other tests may need to be ordered.