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Dysphagia (Difficulty Swallowing)

Dr. John Hsiang, Senior Consultant Gastroenterologist

What Is Dysphagia (Difficulty Swallowing)?

Dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, is a medical condition that affects the ability to swallow food and liquids.

This can occur at any age, but it is more common in older adults and people with certain health conditions.

What are the Symptoms of Dysphagia?

Some common symptoms of dysphagia include:

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to consult a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

What is a Gastroscopy?

A Gastroscopy, also known as an Upper GI Endoscopy, is a procedure to examine the oesophagus (gullet), stomach, and duodenum (first part of the small intestine).

It is done by having a gastroscope safely inserted through the mouth and maneuvered by your Doctor.

A gastroscope is a flexible tube with a camera attached to it. This gives your Doctor an internal view of your upper digestive system to detect abnormalities such as polyps, ulcers, inflammation, or cancerous growths along the mucosal lining.

If your Doctor discovers these issues during an examination, they can remove any polyps or tissues to be sampled for further investigation.

What Are The Causes of Dysphagia?

Dysphagia can be caused by various factors, including medical conditions, injuries, and lifestyle habits. Some common causes of dysphagia include:

When Is It Time To Visit a Doctor?

If you are experiencing difficulty swallowing, it is important to seek medical attention. Your doctor will likely perform a physical examination and may recommend further tests such as a swallow study or endoscopy to determine the cause of your dysphagia.

Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent complications and improve your ability to eat and drink comfortably.

Why See a Gastro Doctor?

Consulting a Gastroenterologist for your symptoms helps in obtaining an accurate diagnosis, giving you peace of mind. It also aids in detecting and ruling out more serious diseases like ulcers and cancer.

At Richmond Gastro, our team ensures a smooth and comfortable consultation and diagnosis, making the process less daunting than you may think.

What happens during your procedure

Usually, a Gastroscopy is done while you are asleep due to the sedatives that will be administered to you. An anesthetic will also be sprayed into your throat to numb your swallowing sensation.

You will be placed on your side and given to wear a mouth guard to prevent yourself from biting on the scope. With the necessary preparations in place, your Doctor will proceed with the gastroscopy examination.

The whole procedure should take about 10 to 15 minutes and you should be discharged within the same day. You will be advised not to drive or operate machinery for the day due to the drowsiness you may feel from the sedatives.

How Can Dysphagia Be Treated?

Treatment for dysphagia varies depending on the underlying cause. Some common treatment options include:

  • Swallowing therapy: A speech-language pathologist can teach you exercises to improve muscle coordination and swallowing techniques.
  • Medications: Depending on the cause of your dysphagia, your doctor may prescribe medications to treat inflammation, acid reflux, or other conditions.
  • Dilation: For narrowing of the esophagus, your doctor may use a special balloon or other device to widen the area.
  • Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be necessary to correct structural problems causing dysphagia.

It is important to follow your doctor’s treatment plan and make any necessary lifestyle changes to manage your dysphagia effectively.

How To Relieve Dysphagia?

In addition to seeking medical treatment, there are some ways to relieve dysphagia symptoms at home. These may include:

It is important to consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or lifestyle. They can provide personalized recommendations based on the cause and severity of your dysphagia.

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About Dr. John Hsiang

MBChB (NZ), FRACP (Australasia), MD (Doctorate), FRCP (Edinburgh), FAMS (Gastro)

Dr. John Hsiang is a Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist with more than 20 years of clinical experience in public and private practice.

Dr. John’s special clinical interests are in gastroesophageal reflux disease, stomach conditions, fatty liver, and gastrointestinal cancer screening

Dr. John has spent more than five years in the Singhealth cluster serving in the Gastroenterology Department at Changi General Hospital and Sengkang General Hospital.

Clinical interests:

Indigestion, gastroesophageal reflux disease, helicobacter pylori infection, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhoea, hepatitis B, fatty liver disease, management of abnormal liver tests.

Dedicated Insurance Support

We understand that navigating the financial aspect of healthcare can be overwhelming. We welcome all patients with or without insurance and can assist with claims regardless of your personal or corporate insurance plan.

Here at Richmond Gastroenterology Centre, we strive to ensure the most efficient claims process for our patients. To that end, our team works diligently with their insurers to obtain Letters of Guarantee and pre-authorization certificates prior to any procedures.

Make an appointment to consult our Doctor.

We understand your anxieties and we are here to support you throughout your health journey. If you have questions or would like to seek a 2nd opinion, send us your message via the form below.

To get an immediate response, you may also call us at: 6517 9958

Dr. John Hsiang is an Accredited Specialist Across All Private Hospitals in Singapore.