Swallowing Disorders

Swallowing disorders, also called dysphagia, can make simple actions like eating and drinking very difficult. The ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists at Henry Ford Health understand these challenges and have solutions that can help.

If you’re having trouble swallowing, it can affect not only your nutrition and overall health, but also your social interactions. People with swallowing disorders often avoid eating meals with others.

In our dedicated swallowing disorder clinics, our ENTs work closely with speech pathologists to diagnose and treat swallowing problems. Together, they customize a therapy plan to help you eat and drink without difficulty.

What are swallowing disorders?

A swallowing disorder interferes with your ability to swallow food or liquids easily, completely and painlessly.

There are three stages of swallowing. A problem during any of them can result in a swallowing disorder.

  • Oral phase: This phase happens in the mouth as you chew and move food and liquid into your throat.
  • Pharyngeal phase: During this phase, food and liquid passes through your throat.
  • Esophageal phase: Your esophagus is a tube that goes from your throat to your stomach. It squeezes food down into the stomach during the third phase of swallowing.

Swallowing disorder causes

Swallowing disorders can result from a lack of strength or coordination in the muscles of the throat or esophagus. A stroke or other neurological condition can also lead to swallowing difficulties.

Other conditions that make you more susceptible to swallowing disorders include:

  • Taking medications that cause dry mouth
  • Injury to your head, neck or throat
  • Missing teeth or ill-fitting dentures

Swallowing disorder symptoms

If you have a swallowing disorder, you may experience symptoms such as:

  • Coughing or choking when trying to swallow
  • Feeling like food gets stuck in your throat
  • Pain while swallowing
  • Regurgitation of food or liquid back into your mouth soon after swallowing

Learn how we treat all types of swallowing disorders.

Take the next step

If you need a specialist’s care to treat voice or larynx disorders, we are here to help. Request an appointment today with one of our voice and larynx experts.


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