Dysphagia is a medical term that means that a patient has difficulty swallowing. There are a number of different conditions that can cause dysphagia. And someone who suffers from dysphagia often finds that it makes life very difficult. Depending on their condition, swallowing can be very painful, which makes eating and getting enough nutrition a challenge.
And what’s even more alarming is that many people with fibromyalgia report having problems with dysphagia.
So, what are some of the things that can cause dysphagia? Is there a link between the condition and fibromyalgia? And what can you do to treat it?
What Causes Dysphagia?
There are a number of different things that can cause dysphagia. Anything that interferes with the complex system of nerves and muscles that control the esophagus can make swallowing difficult. But some of the most common causes are:
- Achalasia– a condition that causes the muscles in the esophagus to constrict.
- Diffuse Spasm– a condition where the muscles spasm uncontrollably, usually after swallowing.
- Esophageal Stricture– a narrowing of the opening of the esophagus caused by scar tissue or tumors.
- Gastro-Intestinal Reflux Disease (GERD)– The gradual destruction of the tissue in the esophagus caused by acid from the stomach washing up into the esophagus.
Dysphagia can also occur without any obvious source. But whatever the cause, the symptoms are often similar. The most commons symptoms are difficulty swallowing, pain in the throat, frequent heartburn, a hoarse voice, and regurgitating food you’ve already eaten.
In most cases, dysphagia isn’t dangerous. But it can lead to dramatic weight loss and can be life-threatening if it causes you to regurgitate food into the lungs.
And while we don’t always know what causes the condition, we do know that it is abnormally common in people with fibromyalgia.
Dysphagia And Fibromyalgia
A study by the National Institute of Health in the United States determined that a significant number of patients with fibromyalgia reported problems with swallowing. Patients in the study reported suffering from dysphagia at a rate 40% higher than people without fibromyalgia.
Unfortunately, the reason this sort of symptom is common in people with fibromyalgia remains a mystery. There’s so much that we don’t know about how fibromyalgia works, including why it would cause dysphagia. But we can speculate on a number of possibilities.
People with fibromyalgia often experience muscle weakness. This weakness could explain why they suffer from dysphagia. The muscles that control the process of swallowing may be affected by the general weakness caused by fibromyalgia.