Jefferson University Hospitals

Dysphagia (Swallowing Difficulties)

Swallowing is a complex function involving the mouth, throat and esophagus. Any difficulty in swallowing (known as dysphagia) is common among all age groups, especially the elderly. Several problems can arise that will affect your swallowing function, including:

  • Globus (a feeling of a lump in the throat)
  • Slow, difficult and painful swallowing
  • Chronic cough
  • Gagging and choking
  • Aspiration
  • Inability to maintain nutrition and hydration

Diagnosing & Treating Swallowing Difficulties

If you are experiencing any of the above mentioned symptoms that are not clearing up on their own, seek comprehensive, state-of-the-art evaluation and treatment at the Jefferson Health Voice and Swallowing Center. Our otolaryngologists will evaluate your swallowing function by performing one or more of the following tests:

  • Endoscopic swallowing evaluation
  • Transnasal esophagoscopy
  • Video fluoroscopic swallow evaluation
  • Esophageal manometry

Additionally, our speech-language pathologists may perform a bedside swallowing examination to assist in diagnosing and treating the problem.

Some common disorders that affect swallowing include stroke, Parkinson's disease, gastroesophageal disease (GERD), cervical spine disease, Zenker's diverticulum, chronic neurological degenerative diseases and head and neck cancer.

After you have been evaluated, our Center physicians and therapists can recommend a treatment option that is right for you – such as medication, integrative and complementary medicine techniques or surgery.