Swallowing Disorders in Tarzana

Swallowing Disorders - Marc Cohen M.D, Tarzana Surgeon

Swallowing Disorders

Swallowing disorders, or dysphagia, refer to any problems that disrupt the normal swallowing process and make it difficult, painful, or impossible to swallow.

Dysphagia can occur at any of the following stages:

Ingestion phase

When biting and chewing your food, you may experience a lack of strength or control in the mouth, causing food to fall directly into the throat and choke you. This lack of feeling can be due to muscle or nerve disease, or even stroke.

Oral phase

As your tongue begins to push food to the back of the mouth in order to swallow, the process may trigger muscle contractions that cause the muscle that opens to let food into the esophagus to malfunction, leading to aspiration (food going down the windpipe) and choking.

Pharyngeal phase

Lack or inadequate muscle contractions in the esophagus - that help to push food down to the stomach - may cause food to remain in the chest area

Esophageal phase

The lower esophagus has a sphincter that opens to let food into the stomach. If this muscle malfunctions, it may cause acidic stomach secretions to enter the esophagus, causing reflux.

Diagnosis and treatment

Swallowing problems usually cause:

  • Choking on food
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Heartburn
  • Food sticking in the throat
  • Sore throat or persistent cough
  • Hoarseness during/after meals
  • Wheezing
  • Feeling of a "lump in the throat"

The problem can be temporary, though it may also suggest a serious medical problem involving the muscle or nerves, head and neck injuries, stroke, cancer, or certain medications.

If the problem does not resolve on its own, please visit an ENT specialist for proper diagnosis and treatment. Dr. Cohen will perform various diagnostic tests, x-rays, and other exams, and recommend the most appropriate treatment for your case.