Swallowing is a complex process involving the brain, mouth, throat, voice box and food pipe. Swallowing problems can occur at any of these levels and may cause troubles with drinking liquids, eating solids or a combination of both. It is never normal to have difficulty swallowing or to experience painful swallowing. Problems with swallowing always need investigation.
There are numerous causes that can affect each of the sites above that play a role in swallowing. Rarely, a cancer can cause issues swallowing and this will initially be the primary diagnosis to rule out.
A full examination looking at the oral cavity carefully, assessing the neck and performing laryngoscopy (checking the voice box with a small camera) in the rooms is very important. Investigations such as a barium swallow (X-ray while swallowing) or a CT scan may also be requested.
Treatment is targeted directly at the cause of the swallowing problem. Sometimes speech pathologists are necessary to assist with your swallowing difficulties once Dr Levin has ruled out some of the serious causes of swallowing problems. Gastroenterologists may be needed if the swallowing problem is caused by your food pipe.
Dr Levin’s primary focus will be to rule out serous or sinister pathology such as a cancer. He should then be able to either treat your swallowing problem himself or refer you to the appropriate health practitioner.