Hard to Swallow


Finding an answer, when it’s hard to swallow.  This is Dr. Steven Andrew Davis, Speaking of Health.  Difficulty in swallowing can range from a temporary nuisance to a harbinger of serious medical problems.  When you consider all the complex actions that occur during swallowing, you can see how so many different illnesses can manifest themselves as trouble swallowing.


Consider the nerves that are involved.  The nerve command “to swallow” comes from the brain and brain stem.  Sometimes trouble swallowing can be traced to a nerve disorder, including a potentially treatable one like myasthenia gravis.


After the nerves have done their job, the muscles in the mouth have to move food into place and then get it into the right tube.  Problems ranging from thickening of the passageways to cancer can impede this important part of swallowing.


Ultimately food winds up in the stomach where again, abnormalities like ulcers can prevent a normal conclusion to the swallowing act. 


There are yet other types of problems ranging from infections to thyroid disease which can make it difficult for one to swallow.  If someone then develops a new problem with swallowing that persists more than just a few days they should see their family doctor.  Timing can make a difference when it comes to finding a correctable lesion that can help restore normal swallowing.    For a copy of this script access our web site, speakingofhealth.com.  Speaking of Health, I’m Dr. Steven Andrew Davis, for CBS News.