What are Swallowing Disorders?

Causes of Swallowing Disorders

Swallowing disorders may be caused by any of the following:

  • Stroke or traumatic brain injury
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease)

Cancer in the mouth, throat or esophagus can also cause these disorders, as can injuries to the head and neck.

Treatment for some types of head and neck cancer can also cause swallowing problems, depending on the size of the tumor and the type of treatment.

Symptoms of Swallowing Disorders
Symptoms of swallowing disorders include:

  • Coughing or choking, especially when eating
  • Throat-clearing
  • Slow chewing
  • Hiccups
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Chest discomfort when eating

For More Information 
For more information about head and neck cancer or to obtain a consultation or second opinion, please contact the Northwestern Medicine Head and Neck Program at 312.926.4323.