Trouble with swallowing refers to two problems:
Swallowing disorders may result from a lack of coordination of the nerves or muscles, or sometimes from infections and tumors
Swallowing disorders result in a number of troubling symptoms. If you have trouble swallowing, you may have just one problem (like pain with swallowing) or you may experience a few different problems (like difficulty when starting to swallow and then coughing during the swallow). Since some swallowing disorders may be serious, it is important to get a proper diagnosis. Johns Hopkins gastroenterologists can quickly and accurately diagnose any swallowing disorder you may have.
Symptoms of swallowing disorders include:
Other symptoms may include:
It can be hard to match up symptoms to a specific disorder on your own. An experienced gastroenterologist is specially trained to help diagnose all types of swallowing disorders. It is important to make an appointment with a gastroenterologist if you are having any of these symptoms.
At ENT Medical and Surgical Care, we combine the latest diagnostic equipment with the expertise of gastroenterologists. Our physicians have years of experiencing diagnosing and treating even the most challenging swallowing disorders. Our high volume of cases means we have the necessary experience and capability to diagnose your condition quickly and accurately.
Diagnosing and treating swallowing disorders requires a multidisciplinary team approach. There are many specialties involved in evaluating and managing swallowing disorders. Your gastroenterologist is at the heart of the diagnostic team, directing care and guiding patients through the appropriate procedures. Other members of your team may include:
Your doctor will begin with a thorough physical examination and will ask you about your medical history. It may be helpful to write down when you have your symptoms, whether any foods in particular aggravate your symptoms and when you think the trouble started, and bring this list to your appointment.
Your history of symptoms will help your doctor determine the type of disorder you may have and the tests necessary to determine the cause.
Diagnostic procedures your doctor may order include:
Gastroenterologists routinely perform endoscopies, a frequently used diagnostic procedure for swallowing disorders. Their vast experience with these tools allows for an accurate diagnosis.
Your doctor may perform an endoscopy to examine the esophagus and stomach. An endoscope is a thin, lighted tube with a camera at its tip that allows your doctor a better view of your condition.
During an endoscopy:
Doctors have decades of experience performing barium esophagrams, one of the most important diagnostic procedures for swallowing disorders.
Barium X-ray studies are often the first step in diagnosing swallowing disorders. This procedure allows your doctor to evaluate your entire swallowing channel, which includes the mouth, pharynx and esophagus. This provides a better view of both the structure and function of the swallowing channel, and offers a contrast so abnormalities show up on the X-ray.
During barium esophagram:
An esophageal manometry evaluates the changes in pressure that happen when you swallow.
During an esophageal manometry:
A physician will pass a thin, flexible catheter through your nose or mouth, down your throat and into your stomach. While it can be slightly uncomfortable to have a tube in your nose, the test only lasts about 10 minutes.
Esophageal manometry provides your doctor with real-time information about:
Wireless pH Monitoring
Wireless pH testing allows your doctor to evaluate your reflux activity over a 48-hour period, while you are continuing your normal activities. To perform wireless pH testing:
24 pH evaluation
Your doctor may order this procedure to evaluate your reflux. During pH impedance:
Most people have some reflux on a daily basis, but your doctor is looking for an excessive amount of reflux.