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Path to Dysphagia Diagnosis
  • Writer's pictureCarinda Stout, MS CCC/SLP

Difficulty Swallowing & GERD: A Closer Look

Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) can occur when food does not pass normally from the mouth through the esophagus to the stomach.

In esophageal dysphagia, food gets hung up while passing down your throat to your stomach. Causes include esophageal spasms, tumors, inflammation, food allergies, scar tissue, and the top culprit, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Acid reflux happens when your LES does not tighten or close properly

The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a circular band of muscle at the end of your esophagus. When its working properly, it relaxes and opens when you swallow. Then it tightens and closes again afterwards. Acid reflux happens when your LES does not tighten or close properly. This allows the content from your stomach to rise up into your esophagus. GERD is a frequent cause of dysphagia. Also, people with other conditions that can cause dysphagia are more likely to have difficulty swallowing if they also have GERD. GERD can sometimes lead to breathing problems, like a chronic cough or asthma.

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