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Dysphagia (Difficulty Swallowing) Specialists

Gotham Gastroenterology -  - Gastroenterology

Gotham Gastroenterology

Gastroenterologists located in Manhattan, New York, and Brooklyn, NY

Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) affects 15 million Americans, interfering with their ability to eat and drink, and increasing their risk of health complications like pneumonia. At Gotham Gastroenterology, with locations throughout New York City in the Midtown East and Financial District neighborhoods of Manhattan, New York, and Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn, the skilled gastroenterologists can diagnose and treat dysphagia. They offer 24-hour esophageal pH impedance and esophageal motility studies done right in the office. To schedule a dysphagia evaluation, call the office or book online today.

Dysphagia (Difficulty Swallowing) Q & A

What is Dysphagia?

Normal swallowing of food and liquid requires a great deal of coordination between the muscles in your mouth, throat (pharynx), and esophagus. Dysphagia is swallowing difficulty that affects the normal function and coordination of your swallow.

There are two categories of dysphagia:

  • Oropharyngeal Dysphagia: Oropharyngeal dysphagia affects the swallowing before food reaches the esophagus and may result from a neuromuscular disease or obstruction. With oropharyngeal dysphagia, you may feel as though food goes down the wrong pipe or you experience choking or coughing after you swallow. These swallowing difficulties may lead to poor nutrition, dehydration, aspiration, or social embarrassment.
  • Esophageal Dysphagia: With esophageal dysphagia, the swallowing problems originate in the esophagus. Food or liquids stick in the chest or throat and sometimes reflux back up. You may develop esophageal dysphagia if you have mucosal rings, esophageal cancer, esophagitis, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

What are the Symptoms of Dysphagia?

Signs and symptoms of dysphagia may depend on the type. Common symptoms include:

  • Coughing or choking when eating or drinking
  • Changes in voice quality when eating or drinking
  • Food or liquid leaking from your mouth
  • Food getting stuck in your throat
  • Extra time needed to eat or drink
  • Recurrent pneumonia
  • Weight loss
  • Dehydration

Without proper care, dysphagia may lead to malnutrition or chronic lung disease. 

How is Dysphagia Diagnosed?

The team at Gotham Gastroenterology performs a comprehensive evaluation and conducts a number of diagnostic tests to diagnose dysphagia. During your exam, your gastroenterologist asks detailed questions about your symptoms and medical history and performs a physical exam. 

To confirm or rule out dysphagia and type, the team offers in-office testing, including:

  • 24-Hour Esophageal pH Impedance: During your 24-hour esophageal pH impedance study, the team measures how much of your stomach contents refluxes into your esophagus over a 24-hour period. The test determines if reflux may be the underlying cause of your swallowing issues.
  • Esophageal Motility Studies: The esophageal motility study determines if your esophagus is functioning properly.

How is Dysphagia Treated?

The experts at Gotham Gastroenterology develop an individualized treatment plan for dysphagia based on the type of dysphagia you have, the severity of your swallowing disorder, and your symptoms.

Treatments may include:

  • Swallowing therapy
  • Esophageal dilation (stretching the esophagus)
  • Disease-specific medication for GERD or motility issues

In some cases, surgery to correct the underlying cause of your dysphagia, such as an esophageal tumor, may be needed to restore normal swallowing function.

Dysphagia is a serious condition that affects your physical and emotional health and your social life. To schedule an evaluation with experts in the field, call Gotham Gastroenterology or request an appointment online today.