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difficulty swallowing
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difficulty swallowing

I have difficulty swallowing.  I've been to many, many specialists.  We have come to find out that it is "in my head".  No one has helped me - hypnotist, psychiatrist, accupunturist, etc.  I cannot go on like this much longer.  It has been two and one-half years.  Today is Easter, and I'm home while my family is gathered together enjoying a big feast.
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Cheryl,

      I don't know if you have a question but it appears that you have trouble swallowing and a physical cause has been ruled out.  There is insufficient history for me to clarify the issue or make specific recommendations but it may helpful to talk with a therapist. A psychotherapist may be able to help you discover a psychological cause for the problem and then perhaps help you change your behavior.  Biofeedback or behavioral therapy approaches may be useful.  I wish I could have been more helpful.  Good luck.

Sincerely,

HFHS MD-JM

Keywords: dysphagia, difficulty swallowing
17 Comments
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Hi Cheryl, I suffered from the same thing years ago.  I could not bring myelf to eat meat because I was sure I could not swallow it.  I went for testing and they told me nothing was wrong and it was all in my head.  The only benefit to this was that I lost some weight during the year when I was suffering from this.  Anyways I don't recall exactly what happened but I am fine now.  It doesn't phase me to eat anything.  I think I just gradally started eating very small pieces of meat and I found out that I could swallow.  I think it was all in my head.......
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Have you been to see a speech therapist?
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To Lynn,
Thank you for your reply.  I never heard of anyone with the same problem.  I was so happy, not that you had to suffer through this, but that I had any replies at all concerning my "condition".  I know this is in my head, and if I could eat without thinking about every swallow, I should be fine; but I don't know how to do that.

Also to JB:  Yes, I have been to a speech therapist.  I went to the hospital to see her, and she crumbled up different kinds of food such as cookies, then granola, and put each in some barium and had me swallow.  I then watched the tape of the process, and I was fine.  You gave me an idea, though.  Maybe I should get a copy of the tape and watch it often to show that I can swallow.  Thank you for replying.  I'm starting to believe there is hope.
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Avatar_f_tn

anxiety can cause a tightening of the throat muscles.
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anxiety can cause a tightening of the throat muscles.
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anxiety can cause a tightening of the throat muscles.
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This computer just went whacko in the middle of typing! As I was saying anxiety can cause those symptoms. I have had this before. Mine also goes along with an eating disorder in which if I eat meat I feel like I have lead in my gut so I vomit it up. It's all anxiety related.
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Avatar_n_tn
Cheryl,

I, too, suffered from this.  It all began before I started having full blown panic attacks.  I thought I could not swallow and was afraid to eat or even sleep for fear that I would choke on my own tongue.  After I found out it was anxiety I educated myself on the subject and saw a therapist.  It helped a lot.

I don't have this trouble anymore!

Good luck to you!

Christine
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Avatar_n_tn
I want to thank everyone for their comments.  As far as anxiety, I did have a panic attack last year.  I learned to calm down and have even been hypnotized, but nothing seems to help.  This all started when I was turning 40.  I was thinking a lot about death and was very distressed about getting older.  I also smoked, but one night I woke up, found my cigarettes and threw them away.  It's been two and one-half years since I quit, and I'm very happy about it.  But that's when this swallowing problem first started.  I thought it was because I quit smoking, but even then, I couldn't bring myself to smoke again.  I have been on prozac and paxil for depression.  I am now seeing a therapist/hypnotist, but I still can't get rid of this.  I cancel dinner dates and lunches with people who don't know about this problem.  I avoid eating a lot of the food I love.  I believe that something triggered this reaction, and something has to "un-trigger" it.  But I don't know what to do.  I have been to everyone I can think of for help.  I am desperate.  I feel as if this is with me for life, and at times it gets frustrating.  I go into a very deep depression which I can't shake, and I'm scared.  The next step may have to be a brain surgeon.  I'll try anything!!!!
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Are you still on Prozac or Paxil. I am on Celexa and noticed a definate tightening in my throat almost as if I am coming down with a chest cold sore throat kind of lump in the throat. I have seen a couple of posts where people on Prozac and Zoloft have commented on the same side effect. All those drugs are similar, SSRI's.
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to Barbara:

I'm not taking anything right now.  Nothing helped me.  Prozac did make me lose a lot of weight.  I ended up buying size 3 clothes.  And I couldn't sleep.  It was just awful.  I wonder if a Behavioral Therapist would help.  Is there such a thing?  I thought I read that.   I have to go meet my husband for dinner right now and am very nervous.   I would cut off my right hand to be rid of this.  It's terrifying!  I am so happy, though, that I have people like you to "talk" to about this.  Everyone is so kind and helpful.  I don't feel so alone, and I am trying to keep my spirits up.  Thank you so much.
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Avatar_n_tn
Hello.
I have the same thing happen to me sometimes. It is basically related to anxiety.
If you do not want  a long term treatment, like wellbutrin, prozac, etc. ask your doctor for some Xanax. It works almost immediatly to relax you, and i have found that it relieves that symptom.
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Avatar_n_tn
I have the same problem but it is a a mild form of Cataplexy.  Cataplexy is a symptom of Narcolepsy.  Is your sleep normal?
Also- there si another disorder called something like Mavis Gravis which makes swallowing difficult.  I would go to a neurologist.
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Myasthenia Gravis - Dear Cheryl,
  I have a disorder called Myasthenia Gravis (MG).  It affects the synapse between the muscle and the nerve.  The nerve cannot get the message to the muscle...there are a variety of symptoms, one of which is difficulty in swallowing.  One person with MG will have some of the symptoms some of the time, and no person with MG will have the same symptoms as another with the disease.
With this in mind, here are some things to look for..
double vision, droopy eylids (the eyelid seems to hang half-up and half-down), speech difficulty, trouble chewing, dropping things, unable to hold your arm up for awhile without it just dropping - (you are unable to control or prevent the arm dropping...this is not a bad test), you lose muscle strength - for example, you can't squeeze some one's two fingers with any amount of strength, fatigue...and trouble breathing.  Trouble breathing and dificulty in swallowing are percursors to a "crisis" and call for immediate medical attention.  This illness is usually treated by a neurologist, though not all neurologists are well-versed in the disease...I would be sure to ask.  This disorder falls under Jerry Lewis's telethon and recieves funding for research.  Right now however, there is not a cure, but treatment is available - just be sure you have a dr. that will explain all your options and include you in the decision naking...hope this helps you or someone out there - it is very easily misdiagnosed - I went 5 years before a doctor finally figured out what all my symptoms meant.
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I am on Cipromil tablets, which seem to be calming me down alot, because before I starting taking these tablets I was feeling very nervey and felt as though I was just racing with life.  At this pre-medication stage I was having a tightening of the throat sensation nearly everyday which were scarey.  It felt as though the hole in my throat was closing up and consequently I had great difficulty in breathing.  I had to sit up as lying down was impossible, it restricted me even more.

Since being on the medication there attacks have been less frequent and also nowhere as near as intense, but I obviously do not want to rely on these tablets forever, and am hoping that the condition will go away???  The tightening of the throat started eight months ago now.

Any one got any comments, or have you experienced the same???
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Hi:
I have generalized anxiety disorder and never really had a problem with swallowing.Occasionally if I was stressed and swallowed too many times in a  row, it seemed to make swallowing difficult. The other night at dinner the difficulty happened about 8 times. I would try to swallow but it was like the muscle action of pushing down the food or saliva got "stuck" half way. I would clear my throat and then it was fine. It was very uncomfortable. I have a terrible sore throat and I am awondering if it is the cold or an anxiety related issue. My mother died one year ago due to dementia and she had forgotten how to eat and drink.After her strokes she also had great difficulty swallowing. I do have to add that it seemed to disipate when I was able to relax and not worry about it. I believe it probably started with a swollen throat from a virus and my imagination and stress load exaserbated it.
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