Swallowing disorders and conditions are treated by UW Health's highly trained team of speech pathologists. Speech pathologists in the Voice and Swallow Clinic who specialize in swallowing work closely with the otolaryngology staff in a team approach to the treatment of swallowing disorders.
Swallowing is a complicated function that the body does relatively automatically. But if an injury, disease or another problem impairs the body's ability to perform this important function, it can have significant medical, physical and psychological consequences.
Problems with Swallowing
Difficulty swallowing can arise as a result of many conditions, including but not limited to:
- Brain injury
- Neurological disease such as Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), myasthenia gravis and multiple sclerosis
- Vocal fold paralysis
- Surgery to the neck or throat
- Head and neck cancer
Symptoms of Difficulty Swallowing
People with difficulty swallowing usually exhibit one or more of the following symptoms:
- Difficulty chewing solids
- Having food or liquids dripping out of the mouth
- A sensation of food "sticking" in the throat
- Coughing during or shortly after swallowing
- Frequent throat clearing while eating or drinking
- Wet or gurgly voice with eating or drinking
- Regurgitation of food
- Recurring pneumonia or respiratory infections
- Unexplained weight loss
Diagnosing Swallowing Problems
The professionals at UW Health's Voice and Swallow Clinic perform comprehensive reviews, taking into consideration any medical, surgical, lifestyle, occupational and emotional factors related to your swallowing concern. Our swallow specialists use the most advanced imaging techniques, including videofluoroscopy, endoscopy and high-resolution pharyngeal manometry, to evaluate swallow function. Information from these evaluations is used to facilitate safe and efficient eating/drinking and guide treatment planning.
Methods of diagnosing swallowing problems include:
- Videofluoroscopic swallow study
- Dysphagia evaluation
- Flexible endoscopic evaluation of swallowing
Evaluating Swallowing Problems
Swallowing disorders and conditions are evaluated by UW Health's highly trained team of otolaryngology specialists.