Reasons of Trouble in Swallowing Food
Q: I have swallowing problem. Barium swallow test came normal. The doctor told that I need hormone test. Does any hormone control the swallowing activity, that is muscle co-ordination etc.? If so, what type of tests are required? If we treat the hormone problem, can I get cured?
The medical term for difficulty in swallowing is called dysphagia.
Normal swallowing requires the coordination of various structures including muscles, nerves, enzymes, teeth etc. Also, the problem may occur at any step in the process, that is at the mouth, pharynx or esophagus.
No, there is no particular hormone controlling the swallowing process. May be your doctor wants to get your thyroid levels checked up. This is because disturbed thyroid may be a cause of dysphagia.
Usually, blood tests are done in such situations to check the levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone, vitamin B12 and creatinine kinase. Blood tests may also reveal substances that signal the presence of myasthenia gravis, a neuromuscular disorder that can cause dysphagia.
Common Causes of Dysphagia
- Tumors of the mouth or pharynx
- Drug or radiation induced dry mouth (xerostomia)
- Chemotherapy-induced inflammation of the mucosa of the mouth, ranging from redness to severe ulceration (mucositis).
- Any neuromuscular problem causing a difficulty in swallowing or pushing food backwards.
- Inability to produce involuntary, wave-like contractions of esophagus (peristalsis), a condition know as achalasia
- Autoimmune disease that can cause the weakening of tissues in the esophagus. These include conditions like scleroderma.
- Any narrowing or strictures formation in the esophagus
- Functional or psychogenic dysphagia: difficulty swallowing caused by stress without any structural problem
The cause of dysphagia has to be investigated. Then only it can be treated.
For last 3 days, I am suffering from pain while swallowing food or liquid. On first day I can’t even swallow normal water and as soon as I took a sip I had a severe pain on right side of chest. There was also pain radiating from right shoulder blade to front in frequent intervals. After taking pain killer, acidity reduction tablet, vitamin D and calcium, now the intensity of pain is lessened but still there is a spasm every two or three hours. At night, I am not able to sleep, due to constant pain at middle of spine on side of right shoulder blade. I have a constant feeling of lump in my upper throat and pain is radiating now to back of spine near back of neck. Kindly advice.
It’s difficult to comment without examining you physically.
Have you been tested for diabetes?
This may be a muscular problem or something to do with your nerves. Needs to be investigated.
I am not diabetic. The x-ray of front chest and right side shows mild degeneration of bones, which doctors say is normal at my age of 44. An ultrasound of throat has also came out clear with no swelling in thyroid gland. My BP is 110/70 and I have problem of cervical spondylitis for which I do regular exercise and it is under control.
It may be muscular pains. Keep the region well covered to avoid cold exposure. You may take some anti- inflammatory medicine for some time. Observe for 4 to 5 days.
If it doesn’t improve, full evaluation would be required.