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Conditions We Treat: Dysphagia
Swallowing is a complex process that involves the mouth, the throat and the esophagus. If you have a problem with any of these organs during swallowing, you may have dysphagia. Dysphagia can be dangerous and should be evaluated and treated by an expert.
Dysphagia Treatment: Why Choose Johns Hopkins
- Our Swallowing Rehabilitation Program is specially designed to help people with dysphagia and other swallowing problems.
- Since swallowing is so complex, our rehabilitation physicians often consult and coordinate treatment with many other specialists, including gastroenterologists, neurologists, otolaryngologists and speech-language therapists to help you improve swallowing and make it safer.
- Barium swallow studies, electromyography and endoscopic evaluation are just a few of the diagnostic tests we use to pinpoint the origin of your swallowing problem.
- Since our program opened in 1979, our physicians have made significant contributions to research in the area of swallowing rehabilitation.
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Dysphagia Treatment Options
Because several organs are involved in the swallowing process, dysphagia treatment will depend on where the problem occurs. Causes of dysphagia may also vary. Dysphagia treatment options may include:
- Medications that help control an underlying neurologic condition, such as multiple sclerosis or myositis. Medications can also be used to relax certain muscles.
- Diet changes that help reduce the risk of swallowing difficulties.
- Speech-language therapy that helps retrain and strengthen the muscles affected by dysphagia.
- Botox injections that help calm the over-reacting muscles that prevent food from entering the stomach.
- Dilation, a stretching procedure that can help widen certain passages in the throat to help the food pass.
Surgery is sometimes necessary to physically alter the muscles that hinder swallowing. Your rehabilitation physician will discuss these and other treatments with you before making a recommendation.
Our Dysphagia Specialists
Water Swallow Test Proves to Be Most Sensitive for Dysphagia
“Identifying dysphagia early can reduce mortality and costs,” says Martin Brodsky, a swallowing disorders researcher. “But we need an accurate screening test.”
In collaboration with other researchers, Dr. Brodsky and Dr. Gonzalez-Fernandez conducted a review of literature evaluating water swallow tests. The team came to the conclusion that this test is one of the most accurate and easiest to implement diagnostic metrics for dysphagia.
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