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Swallowing Disorders


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Swallowing disorders, also known as dysphagia, can put a damper on many aspects of your life. The ear, nose, and throat (ENT) experts at University of Miami Health System are recognized as leaders in treating conditions and disorders of the ear, nose, and throat. We are here to help you obtain an accurate diagnosis and deliver personalized treatment to help ease your dysphagia.

Swallowing disorders are classified depending on where the problem occurs:

  • Esophageal phase: when a person has trouble when food or drink moves through the esophagus and into the stomach
  • Oral phase: when a person has trouble sucking, chewing, and moving food or drink into the throat
  • Pharyngeal phase: when a person has trouble starting the swallowing reflex, or has trouble sealing off the airway when moving food or drink into the throat

Highly varied, the symptoms of swallowing disorders include:

  • Coughing during or directly after eating or drinking
  • Extra effort or time needed to chew or swallow
  • Food or drink leaking from the mouth or getting stuck in the mouth
  • Wet or gurgling sound during or directly after eating or drinking


X-ray with Contrast Material
In this test, you’ll drink a barium solution that coats your esophagus, which makes it show up better in an X-ray. Your ENT specialist can then see changes in the shape of your esophagus and muscles as you swallow.

Swallowing Study
In a dynamic swallowing study, you’ll swallow foods of different shapes and consistencies coated in barium. Images will be taken as your chew and swallow the foods so your doctor can assess muscle activity.

Your ENT doctor inserts a thin, flexible tube (endoscope) with a tiny camera to closely inspect the esophagus and better understand your dysphagia.

Images obtained from a computerized tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) allow your doctor to accurately diagnose your swallowing disorder.


Speech-language Therapy
Your ENT team may recommend that you work with a speech-language therapist, who can help you learn techniques, positions, or strategies that make eating and drinking easier and more effective.

Botulinum Toxin (Botox®)
For more extreme cases, we also offer Botox for the treatment of dysphagia due to a specific type of muscle spasm that affects the upper sphincter (controls food entry into the esophagus). We usually coordinate this treatment with other specialized studies to better assess the nature of the spasm and weigh the potential benefits of treatment with Botox.

Why Choose UHealth?

Ranked No. 28 in the nation according to U.S. News & World Report. The ranking reflects the team’s dedication to excellence in research patient care and outcomes. Surgeons, audiologists, biomedical engineers, speech pathologists, researchers, and psychologists collaborate with many research programs at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine to deliver the best possible multidisciplinary care to pediatric and adult ear, nose, and throat patients.

World-class care in an academic health system. We are recognized throughout South Florida and the world as a leader in treating conditions and disorders of the ear, nose, and throat. Backed by one of the nation’s top universities, our team uses the latest technologies and research-driven expertise to provide you with superior, personalized care and the best outcomes.

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