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Achalasia

By Dr. Michael Vaezi, MD, PhD, MS, Clinical Director of the Center for Swallowing and Esophageal Disorders at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Dr. Vaezi also serves as on the Medical Advisory Board for the Achalasia Foundation.

Background:esophagus

Achalasia, a rare condition affecting about 1 in every 100,000 individuals each year, is defined as a disorder of the esophagus in which the band of muscle located where the esophagus and stomach meet fails to function properly. This muscle is called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) and it typically relaxes when a person swallows. However, in people diagnosed with achalasia, the LES does not fully relax and the normal muscle activity of the esophagus is reduced. Therefore, food is not properly moved through the esophagus to the stomach. Classic symptoms of this disorder include difficulty swallowing foods and/or liquids (dysphagia), as well as regurgitation of undigested foods and saliva. Additional symptoms may include substernal (esophageal) chest pain during meals, significant or rapid weight loss, and significant reduction in overall quality of life. Achalasia occurs equally in men and women, typically between the ages of 30 and 60, has no racial predictor, and does not run in families.

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Phagophobia: The Fear of Eating

Written by Liza Blumenfeld, MA, CCC-SLP, BCS-S

sad

Every human has experienced the uncomfortable sensation of choking. For many, it is a sporadic event that passes without much thinking. A loved one may offer a reminder to “slow down” or “not talk with your mouth full”. Unfortunately, for some, the fear of swallowing is an all-encompassing emotion that can render the act of eating as joyless. A small percentage of these individuals bear this burden while being told that their symptoms are essentially baseless. In other words, they are told it is all in their heads.

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Dysphagia in Teens & Adults

[Editor’s note: The NFOSD would like to thank Ms. Nancy Swigert for volunteering her time to develop this article on swallowing disorder basics for teens and adults.]

ADOLESCENTS

If swallowing problems are present in teenagers, it is typically a continuation of feeding/swallowing problems the teen presented with as a younger child. Teens with developmental disabilities or chronic conditions, like cerebral palsy, may continue to present with swallowing problems throughout their life.

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Pill Swallowing, Helpful Tips and Ideas

by Jan C. Pryor M.A., CCC-SLP, BCS-S

The NFOSD was previously contacted by freelance journalist Janie Rosman. She was writing an article for Today’s Caregiver magazine and asked for some advice on the subject of pill swallowing difficulty. Jan Pryor provided a write up with a few tips and ideas which may help our readership.

A frequent problem for people with swallowing difficulties is taking pills. Usually the trouble is swallowing large pills. There are several options that simply alter the form of the medication.

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