Roughly, 18 million Americans have soreness or difficulty while swallowing.
Severe swallowing disorders require long-term rehabilitation or surgery. Mild swallowing problems — although easier to treat — still may affect your quality of life.
At the UPMC Swallowing Disorders Center, we treat both severe and mild swallowing conditions.
Risks of Untreated Swallowing Disorders
If dysphagia — the medical term for swallowing issues — goes untreated, it may lead to severe problems such as:
- Aspiration pneumonia — an infection that may result from food or liquid entering the lungs
- Chronic bronchitis
- Pulmonary fibrosis
Causes of Swallowing Disorders and Nutrition Issues
Swallowing disorders and related nutrition issues can be the result of:
Side effects of medical treatments
- Combined chemo and radiation therapy
- Surgical changes to the anatomy
- Cervical spine surgery
- Mouth and throat surgery
- Thyroid surgery
Certain medical conditions
- Cerebrovascular accident (CVA or stroke)
- Dry mouth (xerostomia)
- Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)
- Head and neck cancers
- Trauma to the head and neck
- Vocal cord paralysis
Chronic nervous system disorders
- ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease)
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Myasthenia gravis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Generalized weakness
- Loss of muscle mass
Swallowing and Nutrition Concerns During Radiation Treatment
If you have concerns about swallowing and nutrition during radiation therapy for head or neck cancer, please see:
Make an Appointment at the Swallowing Disorders Center
To make an appointment or learn more about treatment, call 412-647-6461 or email the UPMC Swallowing Disorders Center.
Learn what to expect at your first visit to the Swallowing Disorders Center.
Learn More About Causes of Swallowing Disorders
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