Dysphagia and Acid Reflux

Trouble Swallowing Due to Acid Reflux

Dysphagia and Acid Reflux

Acid reflux is very common, as 20% of the U.S. population experiences the discomfort of backflow of stomach acid into their esophagus. This condition is not only annoying, but it can irritate the throat and cause a number of other life-disrupting conditions.

For one thing, acid reflux typically occurs at night when patients lay down to go to sleep. The feeling of having to vomit and the taste of stomach acid can make it very difficult to fall asleep. Problems sleeping can really start to affect your work and personal life.

Another way that acid reflux can negatively impact your life is by affecting your eating habits. One of the best ways to lower the occurrences of acid reflux is to limit meals close to bedtime, and this is actually recommended by dieticians. However, acid reflux can have an even more negative impact on mealtimes by inducing a swallowing disorder called dysphagia.

What is Dysphagia?

Dysphagia is a medical disorder where someone has difficulty swallowing, and it’s usually diagnosed by a gastroesophageal reflux doctor in Los Angeles. The foods that trigger dysphagia vary from person to person, some having issues swallowing whole foods while others have issues swallowing any substance, including their own saliva.

Dysphagia is often accompanied by additional symptoms, like:

  • Pain when swallowing
  • Heartburn
  • Choking
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Regurgitating food or stomach acids
  • Feeling that food is stuck in your throat or chest
  • A hoarse or raspy voice

Acid reflux is the backflow of stomach acid and contents. If you suffer from acid reflux, then your difficulty swallowing may be related to dysphagia.

Dysphagia and Acid Reflux

Dysphagia is often seen by throat specialists as a side effect of acid reflux. The heartburn and regurgitation that are associated with acid reflux can make it difficult to swallow certain foods, thus leading to dysphagia.

The presence of stomach acid in the esophagus can cause irritation, and in some cases, scar tissue that leads to more difficulty swallowing. Your doctor will refer to this as esophageal stricture.

Dysphagia and acid reflux can have an intertwined relationship, which our acid reflux doctor at our LA office can tell you more about. They can conduct a variety of tests to determine whether or not you have both of these throat problems, and they can then discuss treatment options that fit your needs, lifestyle, and budget.

Treating Dysphagia Through Treating Acid Reflux

Dysfunctional swallowing through dysphagia can be treated, but not cured, by an ENT doctor in Los Angeles. In fact, your doctor may focus on treating your acid reflux before your dysphagia in hopes that treating the acid reflux will diminish the effects of dysphagia.

The first recommendation to stop acid reflux will always be lifestyle changes. Acid reflux can be increased by drinking, smoking, eating close to bedtime, or being overweight.

Most ENT specialists will suggest more than one type or suggest you try a combination of medications such as these:

  • Foaming agents that coat your stomach lining to prevent reflux.
  • H2 blockers to limit stomach acid production.
  • Proton pump inhibitors to limit stomach acid production.
  • Prokinetics to strengthen the LES, empty your stomach faster, and reduce acid reflux.

In some situations, patients with acid reflux in Los Angeles may need surgery if they are unresponsive to medication and lifestyle changes. Some surgical procedures used to treat acid reflux will also help dysphagia, including:

  • Fundoplication
  • Endoscopic procedures
  • Esophageal dilation
  • Partial removal of the esophagus

Most treatments for acid reflux and dysphagia involve surgical tightening of the esophagus to physically stop stomach content from flowing into the esophagus. Surgery is necessary when the acid reflux is severe, and severe acid reflux is often referred to as Barrett’s esophagus.

Contacting a Doctor

If lifestyle changes don’t affect your dysphagia or acid reflux, you should make an appointment at Westside Head & Neck. We can diagnose and operate on ailments of the ear, nose, and throat.

We accept most PPO insurance plans, Medicare, and select HMO’s to give acid reflux relief to more Los Angelenos, and our offices are conveniently located in Santa Monica and Culver City. To set up an appointment to discuss your throat problems with our physicians at either location, please call (310) 361-5128 or email appointments@westsidehn.com.

Head & Neck Cancer

Head & Neck Cancer is a term used to describe a number of different malignant tumors that develop in or around the throat, larynx, nose, sinuses, and mouth.

Most head and neck cancers are squamous cell carcinomas, meaning they begin in the flat, squamous cells that make up the thin surface layer of the structures in the head and neck. Directly beneath this lining, which is called the epithelium, some areas of the head and neck have a layer of moist tissue, called the mucosa. If a cancer is limited to the squamous layer of cells, it is called carcinoma in situ. If the cancer has grown beyond this cell layer and moved into the deeper tissue, then it is called invasive squamous cell carcinoma.

Types of Head & Neck Cancer

There are five main types of head and neck cancer, each named according to the part of the body where they develop.   For more information, including signs and symptoms about each different form of  head and neck cancers listed below, click on the links below to read more on Cancer.net.

Laryngeal and Hypopharyngeal Cancer. The larynx is commonly called the voice box. It is a tube-shaped organ in the neck that is important for breathing, talking, and swallowing. It is located at the top of the windpipe, or trachea. The hypopharynx is also called the gullet. It is the lower part of the throat that surrounds the larynx.

Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinus Cancer. The nasal cavity is the space just behind the nose where air passes on the way to the throat. The paranasal sinuses are the air-filled areas that surround the nasal cavity.

Nasopharyngeal Cancer. The nasopharynx is the air passageway at the upper part of the throat behind the nose.

Oral and Oropharyngeal Cancer. The oral cavity includes the mouth and tongue. The oropharynx includes the middle of the throat from the tonsils to the tip of the voice box.

Salivary Gland Cancer. The salivary gland is tissue that produces saliva, which is the fluid that is released into the mouth to keep it moist and that contains enzymes that begin breaking down food.

Information above provided by & approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board06/2014

1301 20th Street Suite 510
Santa Monica, CA 90404

3831 Hughes Avenue Suite 704
Culver City, CA 90232


© Copyright 2013 - 2023 | West Side Head & Neck | All Rights Reserved.

Call| Text