After you chew and swallow food, it travels down your esophagus and into the stomach. Most of the time, you don’t even think about the simple, everyday act of chewing and swallowing—after all, you’ve been doing it since you were born. But sometimes, people have trouble chewing their food into
In many cases, a digestive disorder can be diagnosed from common symptoms, a physical exam, and simple blood tests. But many digestive disorders share symptoms, making diagnosis tricky. Plus, some diseases, like colon cancer, need to be detected before symptoms appear so they can be effectively treated. In these incidences,
ALS—the abbreviation for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis—is a rare neurological disorder that’s eventually fatal. It was July 4, 1939, when Lou Gehrig made his famous “luckiest man alive” speech at Yankee Stadium, an event that helped give widespread attention to ALS. Gehrig, when he was diagnosed, was only 36 years old
If you have trouble swallowing, you have dysphagia. If that trouble swallowing is associated with pain, it’s called odynophagia. These are big words for an annoying—and potentially dangerous—disorder that most of us call “trouble swallowing.”
According to the National Foundation of Swallowing Disorders, the number of those who have trouble swallowing
Q: I’ve been having pain, along with a “full” sensation, in one of my ears. Is it possible for older adults to get ear infections? I thought these were mainly a childhood problem.
A: Yes, older adults can suffer from ear infections, particularly if they swim frequently. If water doesn’t drain
Nearly 7.5 million Americans have difficulty using their voices, claims the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Whether they were born with a condition that makes it hard to verbalize (i.e. autism) or developed speech difficulties following an accident or stroke (i.e. aphasia), these people have one major
Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), occurs when the contents of the stomach pass into the esophagus and cause inflammation. For many people, it causes mild but unpleasant symptoms of heartburn, regurgitation, and trouble swallowing, but if left untreated, it can increase the risk of stomach cancer.
Achalasia: A disorder in which the lower esophageal sphincter fails to relax and open wide enough to allow food to enter the stomach.
Anal fissure: A small tear in the lining of the anal canal.
Anaphylaxis: A life-threatening allergic reaction in which breathing becomes difficult, blood pressure drops, and the tongue and
The simple act of swallowing is the mechanical process that propels chewed food from the mouth into the esophagus (see Box 3-1, The Swallowing Process). In preparation for swallowing, the tongue moves the chewed food to the back of the throat. This triggers the swallowing reflex, and muscles contract to
In some cases, a digestive disorder can be diagnosed from symptoms, medical history, physical examination, and perhaps blood tests. However, many digestive disorders have symptoms in common, and some diseases, such as colon cancer, need to be detected before symptoms actually occur in order to be effectively treated. Therefore, specialized