Dysphagia (dis-FAY-juh) is the medical term for difficulty swallowing. Swallowing problems can happen in your mouth, throat, or esophagus (tube from your throat to your stomach). Dysphagia can be related to difficulty moving and coordinating your muscles as well as sensation, or the ability to feel where food is in your mouth and throat. Swallowing problems can cause dehydration, malnutrition, weight loss, and pneumonia.
There are many causes of dysphagia, but the some of the most common are stroke, brain injury, cancer, and progressive neurologic diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS, or multiple sclerosis (ASHA.org). Some people have dysphagia for a short time because of sudden weakness from a flare up of an unrelated problem, such as the flu or kidney disease. Others may have more long-term swallowing problems. Because many conditions cause swallowing problems, it is hard to tell how many people are affected. It is thought that one in 25 adults experience a swallowing problem every year (Bhattacharyya, 2014).
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