Rehabilitative Swallowing Exercises
A personalized program designed to strengthen your swallowing muscles, prevent choking or gagging, and increase sensation in your mouth and throat for speedier, safer, and more satisfying swallowing.
Compensatory Swallowing Techniques
These are techniques that can make eating easier and safer, such as swallowing liquids after solids to wash food down your throat or changing the position of your head and neck when eating.
May include dietary changes, such as adding a thickening agent to make liquids easier to swallow, as well as lifestyle changes such as weight loss and sleep positioning. Medications may be prescribed to reduce acid production and relax the esophageal muscles. Antibiotics may be prescribed for esophageal infections.
A balloon-tipped tube is passed through your mouth and into your esophagus. The balloon is then inflated to stretch narrowed areas that impede swallowing. This is performed as an outpatient procedure under local anesthesia.
Botulinum toxin, or Botox, is used to treat certain swallowing problems. It works by relaxing the upper esophageal sphincter, a muscular valve between the esophagus and throat.
Surgery is used to treat a wide range of esophageal and throat disorders that impair swallowing, including GERD, vocal cord paralysis, and Zenker’s diverticulum. We use minimally invasive techniques, which typically heal faster and with less discomfort than traditional surgery. No skin incisions are needed because surgery is performed through the mouth.
Duke doctors are among the first in North Carolina trained to perform a less-invasive procedure called per-oral endoscopic myotomy (POEM) to help people with achalasia eat and drink comfortably again. A flexible, lighted tube called an endoscope is passed through the mouth and into the esophagus, allowing doctors to see and treat the damaged muscles that cause the swallowing disorder, without the need for surgical incisions.