Common GI Symptoms
Common GI Symptoms > Dysphagia – Difficulty in Swallowing
What is Dysphagia?
Dysphagia refers to the feeling of difficulty swallowing food or water. If you are having dysphagia, you should consult a doctor.
There are many possible causes of dysphagia, including problems in the mouth, oesophagus (food pipe), and stomach. It can also be caused by nerve/brain problems such as stroke or Parkinson’s disease.
To find out what is the underlying cause, a doctor will need to ask you detailed questions, perform a physical examination, and order various tests.
As cancer grows, it starts to block the passage of food/water during swallowing. Dysphagia is usually the earliest warning symptom of oesophageal cancer. If detected early, it may be cured through surgery to remove cancer.
Strictures/Scarring – Non-cancerous
These areas of narrowing can be caused by previous damage to the oesophagus by acid reflux, injury from swallowing chemicals such as bleach/detergent, certain medicines.
When we swall ow food, there are nerves and muscles which contract to push this food down into the stomach. Achalasia is a condition in which these nerves are affected, impairing the action of swallowing.
Patients with conditions such as stroke or Parkinson’s disease may experience difficulty swallowing their food and water. This can result in them choking and coughing when trying to drink water.
An endoscope is a thin, flexible tube with a tiny video camera at the tip. The endoscope is controlled by the doctor and goes through the mouth, down the food pipe, and into the stomach. The video allows the doctor to look for any abnormalities within the digestive tract. It is also possible to take small samples (biopsy) using the endoscope. During the procedure, mild sedative medicine will be given for comfort.
This involves first drinking a special liquid which contains barium. This liquid then coats the lining of the food pipe and stomach. After which, an X-ray picture is taken. The barium allows the outline of the oesophagus and stomach to be seen clearer than in a normal plain X-ray.
CT Scan (computed tomography)
This is a high-resolution scan in which a series of X-rays are taken. This gives a 3D view of the internal organs in the body.
This is done by passing a thin, flexible tube down the oesophagus. Along the tube are numerous pressure sensors. This test is most useful for diagnosing conditions affecting the nerve and muscles of swallowing (eg: Achalasia).
Videofluoroscopic Swallowing Study (VFSS)
It involves drinking a solution containing barium. At the same time, live X-ray video is taken to examine the movement of barium down the mouth into the oesophagus. This test is useful to diagnose neurological problems of swallowing (eg. stroke patients).
A platform that has been set up by the late Professor Seah CS, The National Foundation of Digestive Diseases (NFDD) serves to acquire and disseminate knowledge to the public on the topics of the functions of the digestive system (the gastrointestinal tract, the liver and the pancreas) and the causes, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases of the digestive system.
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Qui autem de summo bono dissentit de tota philosophiae ratione dissentit. Ut nemo dubitet, eorum omnia officia quo spectare, quid sequi, quid fugere debeant? At, si voluptas esset bonum, desideraret. Videmus igitur ut conquiescere ne infantes quidem possint. Eorum enim est haec querela, qui sibi cari sunt seseque diligunt. Rhetorice igitur, inquam, nos mavis quam dialectice disputare?