A team of Mayo Clinic specialists experienced in treating dysphagia will develop a treatment plan based on the cause of your swallowing problem.
Dysphagia caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is usually treated with medications.
Swallowing difficulties caused by motility disorders (esophageal muscle squeezing) may be treated by:
- Stretching narrowed passages with dilation
- Inserting a metal or plastic tube (stent)
- Injecting onabotulinumtoxinA (Botox) in the lower portion of the esophagus
You may be taught exercises and new swallowing techniques to help compensate for dysphagia caused by neurological problems such as Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's disease.
Some severe swallowing problems require a feeding tube that bypasses the mouth and throat.
Surgery may be recommended to relieve swallowing problems caused by throat narrowing or blockages, including bony outgrowths, vocal cord paralysis, gastroesophageal reflux disease and achalasia, or to treat esophageal cancer. Speech and swallowing therapy is usually helpful after surgery.
- Laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication involves tightening the lower esophageal sphincter, a muscular valve at the end of the esophagus, to prevent acid reflux in people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
- Laparoscopic Heller myotomy is used to cut the muscle at the lower end of the esophagus (sphincter) when it fails to open and release food into the stomach in people who have achalasia. Surgeons at Mayo Clinic are able to perform this with minimally invasive surgery, reducing your recovery time.
- Laryngeal suspension surgery. When swallowing therapy is not helpful in treating dysphagia due to vocal cord paralysis, the voice box can be lifted (suspended) with a surgical procedure to improve swallowing abilities.
Read more about treatment of dysphagia.