Thursday, April 16, 2009

For people with chronic neurological problems, swallowing can become difficult.  Dr. Edward Hill discuses the signs and symptoms to watch for in todayís 60 Second Housecall.

Many people suffer from degenerative neurological diseases such as Parkinsonís disease, Alzheimerís dementia, multiple sclerosis and recurrent strokes.  One problem that caregivers need to be aware of is difficulty swallowing or dysphagia.  The act of swallowing is a complex activity requiring the brain to coordinate several muscles in the throat.  The windpipe needs to be closed so food goes only down the esophagus and not into the lung.

People with these and other degenerative neurological conditions almost uniformly develop swallowing difficulty.  Signs of dysphagia include coughing or strangling while eating, refusal to eat, unexplained fever or frequent pneumonia.  Liquids are often the most difficult substance to swallow because they go down so quickly.

If you suspect symptoms of swallowing problems in your loved ones, bring it to your physicianís attention.  The physician may request the services of a speech pathologist who specializes in these disorders.  Patients may undergo a video fluoroscopic swallowing study where different consistencies of solid and liquid food are swallowed under X-ray fluoroscopy.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Iím Dr. Edward Hill.