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Dysphagia Specialist

Los Angeles Gastroenterology Clinic

S. Radi Shamsi, MD

Gastroenterologist & Hepatologist located in Santa Monica, CA

Finding it difficult to swallow when you’re eating dinner isn’t anything to be taken lightly — nor is it anything you have to live with. S. Radi Shamsi, MD, Santa Monica, California’s leading gastroenterologist, is an expert at treating men and women who struggle with dysphagia. His office at Los Angeles Gastroenterology Clinic is fully equipped with the most modern dysphagia diagnostic and treatment options. Because living with dysphagia can ultimately leave you dehydrated and malnourished, get in to see him at the first sign of swallowing issues.

Dysphagia Q&A

How will I know if I have dysphagia?

In general, you’ll have a hard time swallowing foods, liquids, and even saliva if you have dysphagia. You might also experience:

  • Gagging, choking, or coughing while swallowing
  • Pain or pressure in your chest
  • Heartburn or indigestion
  • Pain while swallowing
  • A feeling of foods and liquids getting “stuck”
  • A need to swallow multiple times to get foods and drinks down
  • Food or liquid coming back up into your throat, mouth, or nose
  • Weight loss from not being able to eat or drink enough

What causes dysphagia?

Each time you swallow, the muscles that line up along your esophagus in your throat are supposed to contract. These muscles get a signal from your brain when you swallow, which automatically makes them start squeezing and pushing down whatever it is you swallowed.

When you have dysphagia though, either your muscles aren’t working correctly, or you have an issue with your esophagus (or both). Dysphagia can be caused by:

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Inflammation of your esophagus (esophagitis)
  • Lymph node tumors
  • Bone spurs in your neck vertebrae
  • Allergic reactions
  • Small sacs in the walls of your esophagus (diverticula)
  • Nervous system problems
  • Stroke or spinal cord injury
  • Muscle spasms in your esophagus
  • Hardening and narrowing of your esophagus (scleroderma)
  • Immune system abnormality that causes inflammation
  • Dry mouth or poor saliva production

Is there a treatment for dysphagia?

Yes. Dr. Shamsi can teach you exercises to strengthen your throat muscles, or how to sit, stand, or position your neck so you can swallow more easily. He’ll help you figure out which foods — and cooking methods — are likely to make it easier for you to swallow.

If your dysphagia comes from inflammation, heartburn, or GERD, Dr. Shamsi might treat that condition with medication to minimize any issues you have with dysphagia. Some men and women benefit from esophageal dilation. With this procedure, Dr. Shamsi places an instrument down your throat, that is designed to gently stretch narrow spots in your esophagus.

Surgery to correct dysphasia, if needed, is tailored to the cause of your condition. Removing a blockage, like a tumor or diverticula, can often resolve dysphasia. Dr. Shamsi can even surgically repair your lower esophageal muscle if it’s letting inflammation-causing acid up into your esophagus. For severe cases of dysphagia, you may need a feeding tube, so you can get the nutrients you need.