Dysphagia or difficulty swallowing

From birth, babies develop their dento-maxillary apparatus.

Its functions ensure feeding, breathing and other vital survival actions. However, like all other activities, swallowing has to fit into certain patterns to be in harmony with the rest of the body.

Swallowing saliva or food is done by generating a pressure difference between the anterior portion of the oral cavity and the posterior portion by creating a seal between them.


The way a child or adult swallows can be influenced by a number of factors:

  • Existence of a nasolabial cleft: clefts involving the palate are congenital anomalies, diagnosed and visible from birth by clinical examination of the newborn.

This abnormality can also be detected early by ultrasound examination, but diagnosis may be made more difficult by the position of the fetus.

In these patients, feeding is much more difficult, with the babies having difficulty sucking and swallowing.

  • In cleft palates, the mouth communicates with the nose and the lips cannot achieve a seal to the breast, these factors make feeding from the mother’s breast impossible.

For this reason, spoon feeding of the mother’s milk is indicated.

The little ones will react quickly and positively to this change, developing in the same way as a naturally suckling baby.

The mother will also be taught breastfeeding techniques by the doctor and nurse, to provide the best possible conditions for the baby’s development.

Hydration status will be closely monitored to detect the effects of low milk intake.

  • In babies, before the teeth erupt, swallowing is done by interposing the tongue at the ridges.

After tooth eruption, maintaining this habit becomes a vice that causes occlusion problems. Swallowing when the teeth are on the arches is done with the arches closed.

If the infant swallowing habit prevails after the age of 6 months, abnormalities in the development of the dental arches will occur in the future.

Difficulty in swallowing is also known as dysphagia and refers to the disturbance the patient experiences when swallowing food. This can occur at two different levels of the digestive system, as follows:

  • Oropharyngeal – patients with this type of dysfunction report that they are reluctant to swallow due to the fact that they have a sensation of food blockage, a lump in the throat. It can also be associated with coughing. The larynx and vocal cords may become irritated during eating so that the patient becomes hoarse. Symptomatology occurs rapidly, at the time of attempting to swallow.

  • Esophageal – is associated with motility disorders of the esophagus and improves with fluid ingestion. Due to insufficient motility of the esophagus, the patient may experience a sternal blockage. If liquids fail to overcome the food obstacle, regurgitation of liquids may occur. The symptomatology occurs slightly later than before, when the food reaches the esophagus.


The etiology of these pains may be lesions and infections of the oral cavity (pharyngitis, tonsillar abscess), neurological lesions or lesions of the muscles of the tongue and pharynx.


Dysfunctional swallowing can be a difficult condition to diagnose as symptoms can vary from person to person.

Common symptoms include coughing or choking during meals, pain while swallowing, lack of strength in the facial or throat muscles, food or liquid leaking from the mouth and unintentional weight loss. Sometimes people with dysfunctional swallowing may also experience symptoms such as dysphonia or chronic cough.

Diagnosis of dysfunctional swallowing can be achieved through specific tests and procedures. These include video fluoroscopy, an imaging procedure that uses X-rays to visualize the swallowing process, or fiberscopy, a procedure that involves inserting a thin tube with a video camera into the throat to visualize the muscles and structures involved in the swallowing process.


Treatment will be individualized and tailored to the cause of the swallowing difficulty.

Dysfunctional swallowing, also known as dysphagia, is a medical condition that affects a person’s ability to swallow food and liquids.

This condition can be caused by a number of factors, including underlying medical conditions, trauma or damage to the muscles involved in the swallowing process, and other conditions affecting the central nervous system.

In this article, we explore dysfunctional swallowing in more detail and discuss the diagnostic and treatment modalities available.

Treatment of dysfunctional swallowing can vary depending on the cause of the condition and the patient’s individual symptoms. Sometimes medication may be prescribed to help relax the muscles involved in the swallowing process or to reduce inflammation.

In more severe cases, surgery may be needed to correct structural problems or to remove foreign objects that may be blocking the pathways.

Swallowing therapy may also be useful to help improve muscle function and the swallowing process.


In conclusion, dysfunctional swallowing can be a difficult and troublesome medical condition, but there are diagnostic and treatment modalities available to help patients manage symptoms and improve swallowing function.

It is important for patients to see their doctor if they experience symptoms of dysfunctional swallowing or any other unusual digestive symptoms.

Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can help prevent complications and improve the patient’s quality of life.

In addition, diet and lifestyle changes can be beneficial for people with dysfunctional swallowing.

For example, food should be well chewed and moistened to facilitate the swallowing process. Eating hard, dry or foods that break down easily in the mouth should also be avoided as these can be difficult to swallow.

Finally, dysfunctional swallowing is a condition that can affect a person’s quality of life.

It is important to take preventative measures, such as proper nutrition and a healthy lifestyle, and to seek immediate medical care if symptoms of this condition appear.

With proper treatment and medical attention, people with dyspnea can manage the symptoms and lead a normal life.

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