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Swallowing Problem Specialist

Downtown ENT: B. Thuy Le, MD

Otolaryngologist located in New York, NY

If you have problems swallowing, contact B. Thuy Le, MD, a board-certified otolaryngologist practicing at Downtown ENT, in SoHo, Manhattan. Dr. Le provides expert evaluation to identify the condition causing dysphagia — the clinical term for a swallowing problem — and customized treatment plans to restore your health. If you have a swallowing problem, call the New York City office or schedule a consultation online today.

Swallowing Problem Q&A

What is a swallowing problem?

When you swallow, the muscles in your tongue and throat push food and liquid through your esophagus and into your stomach. Persistent swallowing problems could be a sign of a more serious condition.

Swallowing issues cause a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Feeling like food is stuck in your throat
  • Pain while swallowing
  • Drooling
  • Hoarseness
  • Being unable to swallow
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Heartburn
  • Acid reflux
  • Coughing or gagging when swallowing

You can have problems swallowing at any time in your life, but your risk increases as you age. It’s essential to seek treatment as swallowing difficulties can lead to malnutrition, dehydration, and aspiration pneumonia. It also increases your risk of choking. 

What causes swallowing problems?

There are two types of swallowing problems: esophageal dysphagia and oropharyngeal dysphagia. 

Esophageal dysphagia occurs when food gets stuck in your throat or chest after you start to swallow. This could be due to problems with your esophageal sphincter, spasm in your esophagus, or issues that make your esophagus narrow or weak. 

Oropharyngeal dysphagia develops when your tongue or throat muscles become weak and can’t move food from your mouth into your esophagus. Neurological disorders, like multiple sclerosis and muscular dystrophy, can lead to swallowing problems. Additionally, you could develop a swallowing problem after a stroke or an injury to your nervous system. 

How is a swallowing problem diagnosed?

Dr. Le provides comprehensive assessment to identify the issue causing your swallowing problem. She might perform endoscopy and use X-rays, or other imaging studies to examine your throat and esophagus. 

How are swallowing problems treated?

At Downtown ENT, Dr. Le provides customized treatment plans to address the underlying condition that is causing your swallowing problem. For example, if you have oropharyngeal dysphagia, she can prescribe physical therapy to help you strengthen and coordinate your swallowing muscles. You can also learn different ways to place food in your mouth or position your head or body when you swallow. 

Dr. Le also offers treatments, both medical and surgical, for a variety of causes of dysphagia. like esophageal dilation and surgery to treat esophageal dysphagia. Sometimes medication can treat the problem effectively in the right situation.  Dr. Le can perform endoscopy and dilation (stretching) to eliminate some forms of blockage causing dysphagia.

If you have persistent problems with swallowing, call Downtown ENT or schedule an appointment online today for expert diagnosis and treatment.