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Difficulty Swallowing.
An_226065 posted:
I'm concerned about my mother. For several years now she has had difficulty swallowing. She is constantly having food/beverage "go down the wrong pipe." Almost every meal she begins coughing and "choking" on her food. It is not to the point that she in any ways needs immediate medical attention, but it clearly causes her discomfort. She has been doing it for so long I don't think she even notices anymore. However, it is painful to watch because she perpetually continues to eat and attempts to continue talking while/immediately after it happens. Drinks of water provide no immediate relief and she continues to eat and drink even though she is coughing, has nearly completely lost her voice, and her eyes have reddened and begin to tear. However, it is not limited to meal time. Not as frequently, but at least several times a week she swallows "wrong" in mid conversation and begins coughing vigorously. As usual everyone tells her to stop talking and get a class of water and wait til the event has passed to continue talking, but she will not unless the person she is talking to suspends the conversation to get her a drink. Symptoms usual include her describing it as "swallowing wrong" or having difficulty swallowing due to it going down the wrong "pipe," excessive coughing, temporary loss of voice/raspy voice, eyes reddening and tearing, it usually happens during meal time, although it is not limited to it, it is almost coincides with talking during eating, it does not seem to be helped immediately by fluids, it usually takes 3-5 minutes for her to fully recover from, though she rarely is willing to not talk while eating for that period of time, she usually continues to eat/talk/drink fluids while choking/coughing which only seems to make it worse and prolong the experience. She is a 53 year old white female in relatively good health. No history of smoking, minimal alcohol use, no asbestos exposure. Problem has persisted for at least 5 years. She writes it off as simply a normal part of eating, although it obviously is not. Her 85 year old father seems to experience the same events while eating. Her 60 year old husband and 21 year old son do not share her problem. She has difficulty sleeping, although I suspect it is unrelated to her problem. Family history of diabetes, depression, some cancer, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. She does not think it is anything unusual and as a result will not bring it up with her doctor. I am concerned it is a symptom of an underlying medical condition and would like to give her something concrete to speak to her M.D. about so she doesn't have to continue to go through this on a daily basis. Any input or theories would be appreciated. Thank you.
susiemargaret responded:
hello, 6731 --

although i am not a medical person, coughing and choking every single time your mother eats does not sound like "a normal part of eating" to me, no matter how long it has lasted. difficulty swallowing, called dysphagia, is something that needs to be investigated; it could be from something minor, but it could be from something more serious also.

here are a couple of webMD discussions on swallowing problems that you might want to take a look at --

-- , and be sure to look at all of the sections in that discussion, these are listed in the column on the left side of the page under the black "difficulty swallowing" title; and

-- .

you might get more responses if you repost this Q on the "digestive disorders" exchange, .

finally, there is nothing improper about your calling your mother's dr and expressing your concern about this. the dr cannot talk with you about your mother's medical care, but it will be useful for him/her to know about this swallowing problem in case s/he might want to bring it up during your mother's next visit.

-- susie margaret

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