Dysphagia is called "dysphagia" in technical language and can have many causes. Especially in winter, colds can cause unpleasant swallowing difficulties with a sore throat. However, the complaints do not always have to be accompanied by pain, sometimes you just feel like you have a lump in your throat. So the symptoms can be classified in swallowing with sore throat and difficulty swallowing without sore throat.
The symptoms of swallowing can occur acutely or last longer, so be chronic. A common cause of chronic dysphagia is, for example, the benign enlargement of the thyroid gland in the case of iodine deficiency. Treatment with home remedies can help relieve dysphagia, but if symptoms persist you should consult a doctor.
Causes of difficulty swallowing
The causes of dysphagia are manifold, as different structures and functions are involved in the swallowing process. So the cause may be in the mouth, in the throat, in the esophagus or even at the stomach entrance. The swallowing disorder is usually only the symptom of a disease and not the disease itself. For the treatment, it is therefore important to know the cause.
- Causes of swallowing problems in the oropharynx include inflammation of the tonsils or larynx and acute pharyngitis in the context of a cold. Those affected then suffer from dysphagia with severe sore throat and foreign body sensation in the throat. Furthermore, burns of the mucosa can make swallowing difficult.
- Narrowing of the esophagus, for example due to tumors, can cause dysphagia. Also, sloughs in the wall of the esophagus can hinder the passage of food. Often, the victim has to choke and the ingested food can not easily happen.
- If the function of the sphincter at the stomach entrance disturbed, so patients often suffer from acid reflux and heartburn, which in turn can trigger dysphagia.
- An enlarged thyroid gland can also be the cause of dysphagia. This enlargement can rarely be caused by a tumor, but is usually a benign response of the organ to iodine deficiency. In people with iodine deficiency, the thyroid can not work properly, it creates a hypofunction. Then the thyroid tries to meet the requirements of metabolism by enlarging itself and forming a larger surface for the absorption of the iodine. Thus, the thyroid gland tries to produce enough hormones despite the small amount of iodine. There are various stages of an enlarged thyroid gland: from barely palpable enlargements to restricting the passage of food, swallowing and breathing, to an externally clearly visible goiter.
- If a tumor in the neck area causes the swallowing difficulties, they may also feel one-sided.
- Severe neurological disorders are often a cause of chronic dysphagia. Stroke patients as well as patients with dementia, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's disease often have difficulty controlling their swallowing and suffer from massive dysphagia. A common complication in these patients may also be the ingestion of food into the lungs, which can cause severe pneumonia.
- Rarer causes are genetic defects in which the muscles are not fully developed and the swallowing of food is difficult.
- Children may occasionally ingest foreign bodies, which may cause dysphagia.
- Mental (mood) disorders, which usually occur unconsciously, can also be a common cause of difficulty swallowing.
Treat dysphagia with home remedies
It is very important to know the exact cause for the correct treatment of swallowing problems. Home remedies can work wonders on simple throat irritation or dry mucous membranes, but other medicines or medical procedures may be necessary.
Suitable home remedies for the treatment of dysphagia are numerous. Patients should always drink a lot to keep the mucous membranes moist and to relieve inflammation. Warm milk with honey, a hot lemon or warm soups are good home remedies. Herbal teas can improve the difficulty swallowing, if the herbs have a soothing effect. Particularly suitable are, for example, thyme and sage.
A scarf and warm compresses are helpful in inflammation of the neck. In case of colds with a blocked nose inhalations with salt water help to release the mucus in the respiratory tract and the nose. This is a simple, cheap and very effective home remedy. Smokers should definitely stop smoking.
Dysphagia due to iodine deficiency
In order to prevent enlargement of the thyroid due to iodine deficiency, it is important to absorb enough iodine from the diet by, for example, eating fish regularly. If the difficulty swallowing is accompanied by severe pain, pain relieving tablets can also be taken.
Treatment depending on severity
Symptoms that persist or worsen over a few days despite the treatment with home remedies are to be consulted by a doctor, as even malignant diseases can trigger the swallowing symptoms. Depending on the severity, it may be necessary for the doctor to feed the patient with a feeding tube.
If the dysphagia is due to a neurological muscular disorder, swallowing exercises can help. The treatment of tumors depends on the type, size and location of the growth, in principle, surgery, radiation or chemotherapy therapy of choice.
Dysphagia in old age
Dysphagia is particularly common in the elderly, who suffer from a variety of chronic conditions, which can cause and increase dysphagia. In addition, the taste and appetite of old people often changes and they consume less food and liquids. The mucous membranes in the mouth and throat become very dry and the difficulty swallowing gets worse.