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

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 ...
Default project is now your active project.
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.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

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 Reset View mode
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?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access 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

    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.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.