Diagnosing Dysphagia

By Cascio, Lynne | Nutrition Health Review, Summer 1992 | Go to article overview

Diagnosing Dysphagia


Cascio, Lynne, Nutrition Health Review


Difficulty in Swallowing Can Be a Matter of Changing Eating Habits or Cause for Serious Concern

At the age of 35, Susan tells her physician that she occasionally has problems swallowing solid food. It has been a problem for years, she says.

"It feels like pieces of food are getting stuck in my throat. It doesn't hurt, but it's really uncomfortable," she complains.

John, who's 65, also complains of trouble swallowing. In his case, it happens when he drinks and when he eats and it has become worse in recent months.

"It started about three months ago while I was eating a piece of steak. It's now so bad that I can't swallow anything unless I cut it into little pieces and chew it thoroughly."

Both of these patients are experiencing dysphagia. However, each person's history may lead to an entirely different diagnosis, ranging from a mechanical obstruction in the esophagus to a muscle disorder or cancer.

Dysphagia is a medical condition in which food does not move smoothly into the stomach. Those afflicted report the feeling of food getting "stuck" in the throat or behind the breast bone.

Physicians agree that dysphagia is usually caused by some form of organic lesion in the esophagus.

Taking a complete patient history is the best way to make a correct diagnosis. A physician who asks the right questions will soon discover with which kind of lesion he or she is dealing.

The type of food that causes the problem is very telling in diagnosis. A person who has difficulty swallowing only solids almost always has a mechanical obstruction. Someone who cannot swallow solids or liquids without difficulty is likely to suffer from a motility or neuromuscular problem, which would involve the neural supply or the smooth muscles of the esophagus.

A liquids-only difficulty probably indicates a lesion in the canal between the mouth and the esophagus (the oropharynx) or a (severe) dysmotility problem.

Whether the dysphagia happens only occasionally or becomes progressively worse is just as important. Someone who experiences difficulty swallowing solids only occasionally, perhaps once a year, probably has a Schatzki ring, that is, a narrowing of the lower part of the esophagus.

Someone whose dysphagia has become so severe that the person is unable to swallow any kind of solid food could have cancer, although a stricture -- an abnormal narrowing of the esophagus -- is probably more common. Unfortunately, strictures tend to be among the more difficult causes to diagnose.

The aforementioned diagnoses are the three most common mechanical lesions known to cause dysphagia -- peptic stricture, cancer, and the Schatzki mucosal ring.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Diagnosing Dysphagia
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.