[Skip to Content]
Navigation
Home > Medical Directory > What is Scleroderma? > Types of Scleroderma > Systemic > Symptoms > Gastrointestinal

Scleroderma and Dysphagia (Difficulty Swallowing)

Author: Shelley Ensz. Scleroderma is highly variable. See Types of Scleroderma. Read Disclaimer
What is Dysphagia?
Dysphagia Treatments
Liquefied Food for Dysphagia
Enteral or Parenteral Nutrition (TPN)
Dysphagia Personal Stories
References

What is Dysphagia?

Dysphagia is the medical term for difficulty in swallowing. Symptoms include a sensation of food sticking in the throat, chest pressure or 'burning' after eating, or a feeling of choking. (1) There are two types of dysphagia: Oropharyngeal and Esophageal. (Also see: Esophagus, Gastroparesis, Scleroderma Gastrointestinal Involvement, What is Scleroderma?, Types of Scleroderma, and Systemic Sclerosis
Oropharyngeal dysphagia occurs in the oropharynx, above the esophagus. With oropharyngea dysphagia patients have difficulty pushing food into the esophagus. Patients may also aspirate due to a weaken epiglottis that fails to completely cover the trachea during swallowing. Oropharyngeal dysphagia can be caused by neurological disorders (e.g., stroke, multiple sclerosis) or skeletal muscular disorders (e.g., polymyositis, Myasthenia gravis). (2)
Esophageal Dysphagia occurs in the esophagus. With esophageal dyshagia patients have difficulty moving food through the esophagus. Esophageal dyshagia can be due to a motility disorder caused by conditions such as esophageal spasms or systemic scleroderma (also know as systemic sclerosis) or a mechanical obstruction such as an esophageal stricture or esophageal cancer. (2)
Both types of dysphagia can be due to many different conditions, scleroderma being just one of them. However, since scleroderma is a rare disease, it is actually one of the least likely causes of dysphagia. It would only be considered in the presence of other significant systemic scleroderma symptoms.
Dysphagia. Occasional difficulty swallowing usually isn't cause for concern, and may simply occur when you eat too fast or don't chew your food well enough. But persistent difficulty swallowing may indicate a serious medical condition requiring treatment. Mayo Clinic.
Chest Pain, Chronic Many different types of problems can cause discomfort, shortness of breath, pain with swallowing, and many other symptoms in the chest area. This chart may help you pinpoint your problem as you confirm your symptoms. familydoctor.org
Dysphagia, or difficulty in swallowing, is not a disease in itself but a condition that can be brought on by many different causes because swallowing is a delicate process, easily disturbed. Some causes are minor and quickly treatable; others are serious, even life-threatening. InterMDnet
Nausea and Vomiting Many illnesses can cause stomach pain, nausea and vomiting. Some are mild sicknesses that will pass by themselves, but others are serious and need medical attention. familydoctor.org

Treatments for Dysphagia (or Difficulty Swallowing)

Trouble swallowing a pill? It's all in the head tilt. The secret to making even the biggest pills slide down tiny throats? Tilting the head, either back, to the side, or down, Calgary researchers have found. CTV Health News. 11/09/10.
Comment from patient with Oropharyngeal dysphagia on the above article: Therapy taught me to tilt me head forward and down to improve swallowing. It works! Also I have found through unpleasant experiences, that when I eat I can NOT turn my head to the sides or tilt it up. It causes me to choke each time.
Some treatments for Dysphagia include: H-2 Blockers, Proton Pump Inhibitors, and GI Stimulants, such as Urecholine ®, Reglan ®, and cisapride (Propulsid ®) (1)

Liquefied Food for Dysphagia

Liquiefied foods are easier to swallow than dry foods. Nearly any food or meal can be liquefied by putting it in a blender along with a compatible liquid (such as milk with cereal, gravy or soup stock with meat, bouillon with vegetables, and milk or water with fruit, and cake with ice cream.)
Protein drink mixes and baby foods are other ways to expand the menu beyond the usual array of canned meal replacement drinks such as Ensure.
Dysphagia Diet carries thickeners, supplements and eating utensils. They offer the most trusted names in dysphagia products, from Med-Diet, Novartis, Hormel HealthLabs, Precision Foods, and Links Medical. You can order products through their online store or by calling them at 1-800-633-3438. DysphagiaDiet.com.

Enteral or Parenteral Nutrition (Feeding through a tube or I.V.)

Scleroderma can cause many problems (such as dysphagia, poor peristalsis, or malabsorption) which may sometimes make it necessary to fed through a tube or I.V. Often, the need is just temporary until things are stabilized.
The Oley Foundation Support and information for TPN patients (U.S.)
Daphne: Daughter of Scleroderma/Polymyositis/Antisynthetase Syndrome Overlap Patient By early 2005, she began to exhibit Raynaud's phenomenon. She was also having swelling in her face, hands and feet...

Dysphagia Personal Stories

Alexandra: Scleroderma My scleroderma symptoms arrived in great style: reflux, itchy swollen skin, joint and muscle pain and tiredness. Plus hundreds of little red spots (telangiectasia). My mouth was tight and getting smaller too...
Betty Fults: CREST Scleroderma I would like to talk with someone that has feeding tubes also. Maybe that will help me...
Beverly: CREST Scleroderma I was overtired and needed naps in the afternoon, pain was slowly getting the better of me and I finally went to the doctor...
Chris Beck: In Memory of My Mother, Veta Breit Can someone help me? My hands hurt and get cramped sometimes when they get cold...
Cindy Fuchs-Morrissey: Mother of a Progressive Systemic Sclerosis Child Hilary has an aggressive form of scleroderma with swallowing problems, bowel problems, fatigue, acral bone dysplasia of the hands and feet...
Daphne: Daughter of Scleroderma/Polymyositis/Antisynthetase Syndrome Overlap Patient By early 2005, she began to exhibit Raynaud's phenomenon. She was also having swelling in her face, hands and feet...
Dawn M: Linear/Systemic Scleroderma My family and I were informed by the doctors, that the localized/linear form of scleroderma that I was diagnosed with, would never progress into the potentially fatal, systemic form...
Denise: Systemic Sclerosis and CREST It all started when I was sixteen years old. I was having awful pains in my hands and feet...
D.M. Hoffe: Progressive Systemic Sclerosis (Scleroderma CREST) After an endoscopy it was discovered I had a Watermelon Stomach...
Donna D: Systemic Scleroderma No one shares a timeline with me or willtell me what to expect next...
Gayle: Deaf with Limited Systemic Scleroderma (CREST) I am looking for another deaf person, female or male, with scleroderma to talk, share, write, e-mail to communicate with...
Gioia: Systemic Progressive Sclerosis (Italy) I was unable to swallow food, and a few times I was at risk of suffocating, and I also had terrible ulcers in my hands...
(Italiano) Gioia: Sclerosi Sistemica Progressiva (Italia) Poi però mi sono resa conto a mie spese che non era così, non riuscivo più a deglutire il cibo, più di qualche volta ho rischiato di soffocarmi, per non parlare delle ulcere alle mani...
Jacquie: Diffuse Scleroderma I am fifty-six years old and I was diagnosed with systemic scleroderma in November of 2003, right when menopause hit...
Jay: Scleroderma and CREST When I was fifteen or so, I noticed that my fingertips were starting to get very sore...
John: Surviving Son-in-Law of Scleroderma Patient My mother-in-law worked as a custodian and that may be a factor in causing her scleroderma...
Judy King: CREST Syndrome A neurosurgeon performed a Digital Sympathectomy on my right hand and, thank God, my finger was saved...
Karen T: Daughter of Progressive Systemic Scleroderma Tubal feeding does not look scary, and it is not the beginning of the end; instead, it is a new beginning for her...
Kathi: Scleroderma/Lupus I am 43 years old and have not been feeling well for 10 years...
Kym: Diffuse, CREST Scleroderma, Lupus and Fibromyalgia It all started with Raynaud's in my fingers and toes when I was about nineteen years old, in 1979...
Marie B: Progressive Systemic Sclerosis I do not know how much tighter my skin can get. It is crushing the blood vessels and my arms and hands are just about frozen...
Marilyn: Diffuse Scleroderma Being that I was a nurse you would think that I should have picked up on this myself...
Mars: Scleroderma with Full Gastrointestinal Involvement I finally started total parenteral nutrition (TPN, or tubal feeding) in May 2010 and it was an absolute success...
Rosemary F: Surviving Daughter of Diffuse Scleroderma Patient She tried to explain it, but it was hard for me to comprehend the disease's symptoms. Mom said that it was the same thing that her oldest sister died from...
Sandie: CREST with Raynaud's I consider myself very lucky to have received my CREST diagnosis at an early stage...
Silezia: Mixed Connective Tissue Disease (South Africa) I believe that if we try to feel positive about our life and the cards we are dealt, then we can manage our disease most effectively...
Soose: Limited Scleroderma I may have had scleroderma for the last year and a half or two years and did not know it...
Tara: Systemic Scleroderma I was diagnosed with scleroderma in January 2000, but I have had it since April 1997...
Yvette: Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease (UCTD) and Thyroid Cancer For now, I have accepted that the diagnosis of my core problem is not important. The way I choose to deal with it is...

References

(1) Managing Dysphagia/Medscape: Fundamentals of Primary Care, W. Bryce Evans, PhD, CCC, SLP,, George L. White, Jr., PA-C, MSPH, PhD, Stephen D. Wood, MD, MSPH; Steven B. Hood, PhD,CCC, SLP; Martha B. Bailey, MS, CCC, SLP
(2)The Merck Manuals. Dysphagia.
 
Go to Esophagus Involvement
 

SCLERO.ORG is operated by the International Scleroderma Network, which is a full-service U.S. nonprofit 501(c)(3) established in 2002. We provide stellar worldwide research, support, education and awareness for scleroderma and related illnesses, such as pulmonary hypertension. Donate or Shop Now.

Questions? Post a message in Sclero Forums or email us directly at isn@sclero.org. Or call our Scleroderma Hotline (English only), Toll Free in U.S. 1-800-564-7099 or Direct at 1-952-831-3091. Ask for our Welcoming Email.

Our headquarters postal mailing address is: International Scleroderma Network (ISN), 7455 France Ave So #266, Edina, MN 55435-4702, United States.

The most important thing in the world to know about scleroderma...is sclero.org!
Home   Medical   News   Sclero Forums   Support   Translations  Donate or Shop
Copyright 1998-2014, International Scleroderma Network. AKA Scleroderma from A to Z and SCLERO.ORG. All Rights Reserved.