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Trouble Swallowing


EarthMother
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I know I've seen periodic comments on Dysphagia before on the boards. But I'm just tossing out (up?) another question to see if it seems to fit a pattern anyone else has experienced.

This doesn't happen all the time but when it does I think it clusters for a week or so at a time ... I have a very difficult time swallowing even saliva. At times it feels like a lump in my throat but sometimes just a very dry throat and it's like "locked" or frozen and there is no swallowing reflex at all. For me it seems to happen only at dinner or late in the day. Hot water seems to help, but most of the time I just have to leave the table and go lie down for an hour or so. In fact, now that I think of it, I can't recall it ever happening if I am taking my dinner while I am reclining with my feet propped up. It happens most of the time if I am sitting up at the table. Usually after being on my feet for a while doing prep for dinner. That's why i was wondering it is somehow related to the POTS.

Anyone else have any issues with intermittent swallowing problems?

~EM

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I have intermittent problems swallowing. In my case, it has to do with some brainstem compression. the two docs most knowledgeable about this, my geneticist who has seen a lot of dysautonomia with brainstem issues in eds ordered a swallow study for me. i would definitely let your doc know. i was told that the most important thing is that you not be aspirating. i seem to be able to cough up whatever doesn't go down right, so it's just something we're keeping an eye on. head position really influences it for me. i was advised to use "thick-it" to thicken liquids, as i'm most likely to choke on liquids. i haven't had to use it in a while, but i notice my problems are worse at the end of the day.

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So sorry you are struggling with this..its scary sometimes. I used to have it ALL the time I would try and eat..wave my hand and my husband would bring me water. Then I learned to drink fluids WhILE eating and that helped.

BUt after I started to wake up at night and in a panic could NOT swallow at all.. I saw a doctor again.

I had a GI doc and he did an hmm..cannot think of the name..but its when they put a tube down your throat with a camera. You are sedated..YEAH. Turns out I did not have GERD OR hernia..but he needed to stretch my esophagus..and since then I have not had a problems. Confusing eh? OH.. after the test..I did have problems for about 2 weeks as the esophagus was healing..but it was NOT painful and helped alot.

Good luck..but if you are choking on saliva..see a doc

Let us know..k?

Warmly, Jan

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Had similar problems, even with water. They did an endoscopy and diagnosed esophagitis, so now I'm on a proton pump inhibitor and that helps somewhat. Definitely see a GI doc. Could be any of the things discussed here... or even something else. They also worked me up for cardiac issues and ruled that out.

Good luck!

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Hi EM,

I've had a similar sensation that manifests in 2 different ways.

I've had periods when the automatic part of swallowing was no longer automatic- very frustrating/frightening. That happened when I was on beta blockers. And, that might be what you are describing. I had to periodically remind myself to swallow with some difficulty.

I also regularly have symptoms (usually later in the day) when my throat feels tight, kind of like there is a lump in it. I can still swallow & breathe, but with difficulty. After an H-1, that symptom pretty much disappears.

These are similar, but very different. Does either sound like what you are dealing with?

Julie

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I just went to the Dr. today and mentioned this symptom. For me it is more noticeable when I take larger bites or the if food I am eating needs more chewing (if that makes sense). I don't notice a time of day but I don't have trouble with foods like yogurt or bananas. I don't have any advice for you but I wanted to let you know that I believe (for me) it is my POTS. Do you think you eat slower at dinner so you notice it more? Is it worse when you are tired.

When this symptom is really bad for me I almost feel like food is caught in my esophagus. I don't want to do anything about it at this point. It was worse when I was taking labetalol. ( probably not a factor) but I do wonder what symptoms are side effects. Good luck

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I have the lump in my throat feeling often. I haven't had the work up and it's yet another thing I've just attributed to POTS. I did discuss it with my doctor though and he did a CT scan to make sure there wasn't a mass impeding my swallowing.

Brye

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*raises hand* ME TOO, ME TOO!!! Oh, it's frustrating and frightening all at the same time! I haven't noticed a pattern, and now that I think about it, I haven't had any difficulty swallowing in a few months... but I've had longer respites from it before... I'm just praying it won't come back.

Mine were more that the muscle around me epiglottis was trying to push down, and the one right underneath it was trying to push up against the other muscle... and stuff (even just a sip of water or saliva) would just get passed back and forth for a few minutes before either the top muscle won or the bottom one did and I would end up vomiting. In any case, it's not FUN at all, and like I mentioned, quite frightening. There have also been some cases where it feels like my epiglottis is paralyzed almost, and when I went to swallow, everything dumped into my trachea (or even lower). I've had a few moments where I can predict that one coming, but usually it's a spit-second before I try to swallow.

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This has been a big help, I can much better grasp all of the various issues or symptoms that could be implied when we think -- "I can't swallow." It let me really look closer at my own situation with a much better vocabulary.

In my case when it happens it is much more like Julie described my swallowing reflex seems to shift from automatical to manual. I have never choked or gotten food stuck in my throat it just becomes very labored to swallow. Much of the time I can feel a lump like in cricopharyngeal spasm. Actually my symptoms fit thst to a tee accept it says that the spasm gets BETTER when you eat and that is the opposite for me.

I suspect as well, if I took an aterax it would abate because that pretty much relaxes everything in my body. The coathanger spasms have been hard lately and I have to suspect this is just one more muscle group joining in on the fun.

Yesterday I made a point of reclining when I took my meals and I had dinner prepared two hours in advance and it was just simmering on the stove until we ate, and I had no problem. <Veggie BBQ Chickie on whole wheat buns -- so it wasn't soft food for certain.>

I will keep a symptom log for my next Dr. appointment and let him know what's up.

Deep bow of thanks for sharing your stories. Good luck to all on your healing journey.

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the log sounds like a good idea.

for me, the role of head position, and the fact that liquids are harder than solids told us a lot. in people without brainstem compression, but whose swallow nerves are impaired, it's easier to swallow if they put their chin to chest. for me, that totally pinches everything, and i absolutely CANNOT swallow. I have a retroflexed odontoid, so overgrowth of bone on c2 (from too much /hypermobile movement )that compresses my brainstem when my head is flexed forward.

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