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Frequently Asked Questions About Dysphagia

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Frequently Asked Questions About Dysphagia

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  • In general, neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and Parkinson’s disease can cause dysphagia
  • There’s a possibility that anxiety can cause dysphagia. It causes your body to release stress hormones that cause your muscles to contract, and one area that can become affected is your throat

Q: What does dysphagia mean?

A: In essence, dysphagia is a condition that means “difficulty in swallowing.” The word is believed to have been first used during the 18th century. It is a combination of the words “dys,” denoting difficulty,1 and “phagia,” which is the Greek word for eating.2

Q: What causes dysphagia?

A: Swallowing is a complex movement that requires the participation of various muscles to push foods and liquids down the esophagus. Since there are many parts involved, many different causes can affect the action as well.3 In general, neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and Parkinson’s disease can cause dysphagia. In other cases, gastroesophageal disease (GERD), tumors and achalasia can cause trouble swallowing.4

Q: What is the difference dysphagia and aphasia?

A: Aphasia is a completely different disease from dysphagia. It is a communication disorder that results from damage to parts of the brain responsible for language. It is often caused by a stroke; however, other factors such as brain tumors, traumatic injury and neurological disorders can cause aphasia as well.5

Depending on how your speech is affected, there are several forms of aphasia. Here are the examples, according to the National Aphasia Association (NAA):6

Global aphasia — This type is the most severe form of the disease. It is apparent when a person can produce very few recognizable words and has immense difficulty understanding language. Furthermore, these people cannot read or write. Effects are usually seen immediately after a severe stroke.7

Broca’s aphasia — This type is characterized by severely reduced speech comprising less than four words. Vocabulary is limited and there’s clumsiness and great difficulty in the formation of sounds. The affected person may understand speech and reading very well, but may have trouble writing things down.

Mixed nonfluent aphasia — The NAA states that patients who “have sparse and effortful speech that resemble severe Broca’s aphasia” fall under this category. However, its main characteristic is limited comprehension of speech. Reading comprehension and writing abilities are also limited to an elementary level.

Wernicke’s aphasia — Also known as fluent aphasia, this type is marked by an impairment in the ability to comprehend spoken words, although the person’s aptitude to produce their own speech is largely unaffected. The NAA notes that “speech is far from normal,” as irrelevant words may appear during a conversation. Reading and writing are impaired as well.

Anomic aphasia — People who have difficulty finding words for things they want to discuss, especially verbs and nouns, fall under this category. They also become frustrated because, although grammatically fluent, their words tend to be vague. Their ability to understand spoken words and written text is adequate.

Primary progressive aphasia (PAA) — This is a special form of aphasia wherein a patient slowly loses their ability to comprehend language. Unlike other causes such as stroke or head trauma, PPA is caused by neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. First faculties affected are speech and language, but memory follows afterward.

Q: Can severe anxiety cause dysphasia?

A: Yes, there’s a possibility that anxiety can cause dysphagia. It causes your body to release stress hormones that cause your muscles to contract, and one area that can become affected is your throat.8

A different condition called globus pharyngeus may occur due to anxiety as well. While often confused with each other, globus pharyngeus is actually a sensation of having a blockage, or a lump, in the throat. Nevertheless, some people who experience this condition may also have difficulty swallowing. Their also anxiety also makes them hesitant to swallow, worrying that it may cause them to choke.9

MORE ABOUT DYSPHAGIA

Dysphagia: Introduction

What Is Dysphagia?

Dysphagia Symptoms

Dysphagia Causes

Dysphagia Treatment

Dysphagia Prevention

Dysphagia Diet

Dysphagia FAQ


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